Rhombus Guys Brewing Co
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Having already mastered the art of pizza and smoothies, restaurateurs Matt Winjum and Arron Hendricks were ready to take on their next challenge: craft beer. With a desire to create a downtown brew pub that would introduce locals to new beer flavors while creating a hangout different from anything else found in Grand Forks, the Rhombus Guys Brewing Co. was born.
Once a vital part of downtown and the neighboring railroad, the Historic Opera House had been left underutilized for decades. JLG breathed new life into the structure in the years after the Flood of 1997, saving it from demolition converting the upper floors to unique – and popular – loft apartments. The ground floor storefronts, however, had been left cleaned but untouched, awaiting the right tenant. Matt and Arron tapped JLG to transform the storefront of the iconic building into a vibrant space that reflected the past while re-engaging the downtown foodies. JLG’s solution creates a 4,000 sf bar and restaurant with a viewable micro-brewery. As opposed to creating a single open space, JLG left many of the interior brick walls and cast metal columns intact, to both create dining intimacy and preservation of historic elements. Tall windows along the entire front face provide views of the main downtown corridor and send daylight all the way to the back of the space.
The design sparked a desire by the owners to incorporate the architecture and 125-year history of the building into the menu, and so a few of the seven Rhombus beers nod to the past – for example, the Illusion Amber is named after Harry Houdini, who performed in the Opera House a lifetime ago.
JLG worked closely with Matt, Arron and their head brewer, Chad Gunderson, to create the ideal space and layout needed for the brewing process, efficient cook/serving line and bar functionality and guest amenities while incorporating the needs of the contractor and consultants into the final design. Multiple options were tested for functionality, and assessed for cost/benefit analysis. The kitchen and brewing support spaces, as well as the offices, are actually located in the basement and are accessed at the heart of the restaurant to keep staff in the center of things, even when they are on another floor.
Brewed from hearts of three guys who “see the world from a slightly different angle,” the Rhombus Brewery opened to great acclaim and has sparked the creation of the area’s first gastropub menu.