When you think about it, a new bar opening in Downtown Boise is a pretty rare occurrence. But when three new bars appear in the same building, virtually simultaneously? That’s unheard of.
And “super, super cool,” says Longdrop Cider Co. president Chris Blanchard.
Last week, Longdrop held a soft opening at 603 S. Capitol Blvd., becoming Boise’s first hard-cider tasting room. It’s also the first member of a diverse, three-entity — actually four-entity— food-and-drink coalition planned for the corner of Fulton Street and Capitol Boulevard. Longdrop will formally introduce itself at its grand opening Saturday afternoon, then start waiting eagerly for its cooperative new neighbors to appear this spring.
▪ The Gas Lantern Drinking Company, a cocktail-and-wine-focused bar with an English-pub feel, hopes to be open by late March in the corner spot that previously held Everhealthy Fitness, 701 W. Fulton St.
▪ White Dog Brewing Co., which also has a pub in Bozeman, Mont., would love to be open by April in the longtime TableRock Brewpub space at 705 W. Fulton St. (most recently Grind Modern Burger).
▪ Smoke & Thyme, a 40-foot mobile kitchen not unlike a brick-and-mortar operation, plans to park in the alley next to White Dog. Armed with two 6-foot custom smokers, it will prepare food served at Longdrop, The Gas Lantern and White Dog. It’s a game changer for those bars. Smoke & Thyme could be cooking — at least on a catering level — within weeks.
Suddenly, a building that seemed forgotten on the edge of Downtown feels like Boise’s hottest new entertainment destination.
“I think it’s going to be great fun for people to sort of hop back and forth between all three spots on the same block,” says Dave Haley, co-owner of The Gas Lantern and Smoke & Thyme.
The idea of a nearby restaurant providing food isn’t new to Dan Jordan, co-owner of White Dog Brewing. That’s how White Dog handles the menu at its Bozeman taproom.
“It’s worked extremely well,” Jordan says. “That way, we can focus on the beer.”
All three bars will offer separate menus, Haley says. Longdrop’s food will be 100 percent gluten-free, targeting cider drinkers. White Dog will serve pub food: burgers, sandwiches and appetizers. The Gas Lantern will carve out its own niche.
And if you just want to walk up to the massive food truck, order at the window and sit outside? That’s cool, too. White Dog will have outdoor seating next to Smoke & Thyme, plus more on its Fulton Street patio. The Gas Lantern and Longdrop also will have separate patios, creating a long, wraparound party zone. Outdoor fire features and live music are part of the plan, Haley says.
“I think it’s going to be great,” he says. “I think it’s going to be amazing.”
“And certainly,” Haley adds, “the growth in Downtown Boise is headed in that direction right now. So we feel like the timing is good.”
The Afton condominiums are on the way. And two new hotels: the Inn at 500 Capitol and a Marriott Residence Inn.
Blanchard sees it as built-in patrons.
“With the growth and the hotels here in the area,” he explains, “we’ve got 250 captive customers based on normal occupancy rates staring straight into our building every day. So we think it’s a fantastic experience for us.”
It could be pretty fantastic for Boiseans, too. Idaho cider? Locally brewed beer? High-quality cocktails? Inventive food?
This new entertainment corner Downtown sounds promising.
“I have high hopes for it,” Haley admits. “We’re going to do it right. It’s not going to fail because we didn’t put the effort in.”