Restaurant owners had to face many obstacles to keep their doors open during the pandemic. But challenging times can also open new opportunities as the opening of the up-and-coming restaurant Brick & Forge Taproom in Killeen shows.

The restaurant originally opened its doors on July 25 and is located at 2901 E Central Texas Expy in Killeen.

In a time when eateries across the country are trying to figure out ways to comply with social distancing and updated hygiene rules, Todd Smith, general manager of Brick & Forge Taproom, took the chance to fulfill his dream to open the independent restaurant.

The restaurant location was previously known as Old Chicago until an opportunity occurred to break away from the franchise. Although the decision wasn’t planned much in advance, Smith took his chances.

“We could basically create our own restaurant,” Smith said. “It was kind of a snap thing, but we pulled it off.”

Now, he is following an entirely new concept with his restaurant.

“We are locally operated, and we’re trying to be a hyper-local restaurant that specializes in locally crafted beer,” Smith said. “We are trying to eventually resource our own food here locally.”

The restaurant is currently serving versatile flavors from the traditional Texas brewery Brick & Forge Brew Works. That also inspired the restaurant’s name.

“My owner has produced his own beer since 2013 in Abilene, Texas,” Smith said.

Besides a variety of beers, the Brick & Forge menu offers a variety of dishes from gourmet street tacos to hand-tossed pizzas and hamburgers to chicken wings with eight different sauces.

New customers can expect a laid-back and friendly environment with delicious food made from scratch.

“We’ve really gone back down to scratch and making everything with love and hard work,” Smith said.

“Just getting back down to the basics of teaching work – that’s honestly the best thing,” he said. “Making the dough fresh every day, hand making the patties, cutting the chicken again, breading it … just getting back to what kitchen work is all about.”

The system of hand-made, traditional food and good beer seems to be working well and paying off.

“We just opened our second restaurant in Conway, Ark.,” Smith said.

The Killeen restaurant is currently operating Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday between 11 and midnight and accepting applications.

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