GATESVILLE — After 10 years of dreaming, planning and building, a Gatesville couple has opened the area’s first gastropub — a casual, comfortable restaurant and bar serving upscale food and beverages.
“Good food, good times. A place to feel better and socialize,” said Reid Feltmate about The Pharmacy, which he and his wife, Barbara Burrow, opened Sept. 9.
“It has been a very exciting process,” said Burrow, a member of the Gatesville City Council who had been a vocal supporter of ballot measures to legalize alcohol sales in town.
Voters passed the measures by more than 60 percent in November, but obtaining a license to sell beer, wine and mixed drinks was just part of realizing their dream.
They renovated a 115-year-old storefront at 712 E. Main St. that had been Arnold’s Drug Store from 1897 to 1936. They kept the original tile floor and tin ceiling, added a kitchen in back and replaced the old soda fountain with a bar.
There were permits to obtain, staff to hire and train, food suppliers and beverage distributors to deal with, a menu to plan and a curious public to satisfy.
“For the first 10 days, I was totally exhausted,” Feltmate said. “I lost 18 pounds.”
Burrow and Feltmate are starting to settle into the routine of running their gastropub, which she said differs slightly from such establishments in England, the country of origin.
“We are a restaurant with a bar,” she said. “The original gastropub is defined as a bar with a restaurant.”
The Pharmacy is a “food destination,” Feltmate said, with alcohol accounting for just 20 percent of sales.
Burrow said she manages the kitchen and “the back of the house” while Feltmate is in charge of the bar and the “front of the house.”
“We didn’t know how Gatesville would accept the notion of a gastropub,” Burrow said. “There has been an outpouring of support.”
There is a growing lunch crowd of regulars from the nearby courthouse, downtown businesses and officers from the six prison units in town, Feltmate said.
“People from Laerdal have fallen in love with the place,” Burrow said of the international manufacturer that started as the home-grown Medical Plastics.
The space is cozy and inviting, with photos of old-time Gatesville — including interior shots of Arnold’s Drug Store — on the walls.
Four big TV screens behind the bar provide sports and entertainment.
Customers can nibble on fried boudin balls, munch a specialty salad or tuck into coffee-rubbed churrasco and mash while swigging an Ugly Pug from the tap or sipping a pineapple jalapeno margarita made by one of the “mixologists” behind the bar.
Save room for one of the specialty desserts Burrow makes herself — rum cake, Snicker cheesecake and a first-rate tiramisu.
Feltmate has an assortment of Texas craft brews — bottled and draft — to complement an array of martinis, margaritas and a dozen specialty cocktails including the Gatesville Sling and the Broken Spur.