Brickyard Square starts up where historic restaurant left off |

Brickyard Square starts up where historic restaurant left off

Carrie Click
Post Independent Staff
Maggie Riley of Silt, left, and Irene Massey of Rifle enjoy conversation at the new Brickyard Square restraunt.

RIFLE ” Brickyard Square, Rifle’s newest restaurant and bar, isn’t really open yet. But don’t tell that to the packed houses that are filling the place for lunch and dinner.

“We’re opening quietly and slowly,” said Christian Harra, who created the new eatery to match reputations with his successful 5-year-old Silt restaurant, The Miner’s Claim. “We’re breaking in the staff ” perfecting our plate presentation, refining our timing in the kitchen, and fine-tuning the computer system.”

To the more than 150 people at the restaurant Wednesday night, operations at the Brickyard were as smooth as the staff greeting patrons at the door.

Dressed in her black-and-whites, hostess Bridget Peters, a Rifle High School sophomore, welcomed people entering the foyer of the restaurant, inviting them inside with a smile.

Peters joins about 40 other servers, hosts, chefs and bartenders whom Harra has hired to staff his new eatery that, besides a mouth-watering menu, features a 60-bottle wine list, a 400-watt sound system, faux finishes, glowing granite, and the “nicest high-definition flat screen TV available,” according to Harra.

Housed in the newly renovated, 100-year-old Midland Hotel on 3rd Street in downtown Rifle, Brickyard Square is true to its name. Exposed brick is everywhere, peeking out from the bar’s walls, in the dining room, bordering the restaurant’s private outdoor patio, and enclosing a separate outdoor smoking enclave that has an air curtain that blows smoke away from the rest of the restaurant.

The original wood floors, detailed wood moldings, modern sculpted lamps, backlit bar, and tile and granite work handcrafted by artisans had more than one patron looking around with wide-mouthed awe.

“This was the one of the most enjoyable jobs I’ve ever worked on,” said Rifle resident Erich Vogt of Fallen Angel Enterprises who did the woodwork renovation on the Midland Hotel and Brickyard Square. “Plus it’s only five minutes from our house.”

Vogt’s wife, Laura, said Brickyard Square’s time has come.

“This is so wonderful for Rifle,” she said.

Brothers Mike and Dennis Hawley work for Gallegos Masonry and did all of the granite and marble work at the restaurant. They said Jeff Suriano (“He’s known as Mr. Tile Man,” Mike said) did the restaurant’s intricate tile work.

Clearly, the Hawleys were pleased with the results of their work. Wednesday, they were sitting at the enormous 46 linear feet of bar made of granite and marble pieces from Italy, Brazil and Guatemala.

“This took us six months,” they said of the Brickyard job. “This place turned out great.”

This isn’t the first time a restaurant has operated in the space. Midland Hotel owner Israel Shapira said in the early 1900s, people would dress up to dine at the hotel’s restaurant located in the Brickyard’s space, which featured an aviary filled with a variety of exotic birds.

The exotic birds are gone, but not the art of running a restaurant.

“I figure even the best cup of coffee can get cold,” Harra said, of restaurants that that don’t look at new ways of doing things. “Hairstyles change, and clothes and car styles change,” he said. “So do restaurants ” the food, the drink and the atmosphere.”

Known for his sumptuous and reasonably-priced cuisine ” the Brickyard features bruschetta, Alaskan halibut, tenderloin of beef, chicken penne, seasoned pork chops and much more ” Harra said that last November he was approached by Shapira.

“He was looking for something special for this space,” Harra said. “He didn’t want a chain restaurant here.”

Harra said he’ll be busy now running both restaurants, though he has a experienced staff to help him.

“If it wasn’t for The Miner’s Claim we wouldn’t be here,” he said of his first restaurant that is still packing them in and going strong. “The Brickyard Square and The Miner’s Claim are quite a marriage.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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