Words & Deeds

‘Crushing’ in sales, food-focused Boise brewery to open new Downtown restaurant

Tony Knipe is proud of the award-winning beer he sells at Edge Brewing Co.

But if you want to get him excited, bring up the “brewery food” at Edge.

Wild mushroom chicken pasta. Kettle chip nachos. Brisket poutine.

Or a “Big Sexy Philly” cheesesteak.

“I don’t mean to brag,” says Knipe, Edge’s general manager and executive chef. “But that menu is solid.”

Downtown Boise is about to get a taste. Founded in 2014 at 525 N. Steelhead Way, Edge Brewing will open a second location this fall at higher-profile 205 N. 10th St. If all goes according to plan, the new brewpub could be operating by late September in the spot that formerly held Willowcreek Grill and Raw Sushi.

Edge, which brewed around 1,500 barrels in 2018, sells about 600 pints a week of its most popular beer, Pugzilla IPA.

But the brewery’s true edge is its grub. Food sales have grown about 20 percent each year since Edge opened, Knipe says. While other breweries rely on food trucks? “We’ve been crushing sales in the restaurant,” Knipe says.

“Coming in as the executive chef and general manager, one of the main things I wanted to do was make pub food or brewery food just better,” he says, “and do something that was not just box, bag and frozen food. But try to keep it fresh, local and inspiring.”

Edge is transitioning to a new menu, but longtime customers can rest assured they’ll still find their favorites. Taco Tuesdays aren’t going anywhere: “We sell hundreds of tacos, which is cool,” Knipe says.

The Over the Edge Burger ($14) is another popular selection: A 1/3-pound local Malheur River Meats grass-fed beef patty comes with peppered bacon, fried pickles, sharp cheddar, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and Edge Blackwater Stout BBQ sauce. Even better, it’s served with hand-cut fries.

Need a few hundred extra calories? Dive into that Big Sexy Philly ($12): slow-roasted Double R Ranch brisket, grilled onion, jalapenos, swiss and seasoned cream cheese on an Acme Bakeshop baguette, served with au jus. Or devour the Five Cheese Baked Mac ($12): sharp cheddar, smoked cheddar, smoked gouda, gorgonzola and parmesan, with a crispy panko topping. Supercharge it with smoked brisket burnt ends for an extra $4.

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Kids will be welcome, but Edge Downtown probably won’t be as family-driven as the original brewpub. Located off the beaten path near Boise Towne Square, it’s a neighborhood destination.

“We feel that what we have here works, and so we’re going to just duplicate that Downtown,” Knipe says. “There will be some new items and a little different vibe down there, but the core of who we are will definitely be down there as well.”

The new space — which has a capacity of 85 inside and 20 on the patio — might seem daunting for a hopeful business. Willowcreek Grill shuttered in less than a year, and the spot was vacant for an extended period before that.

Knipe chuckles at the notion.

“A lot of people have mentioned that,” he says, “talking about the fact that people were not being able to do business there, or that it was cursed, or this or that, or kind of a weird location.

“If you look at where we’re coming from — we’re in the middle of nowhere, and we’re building sales every year. So I’m not worried about weird locations at all.”

Online: edgebrew.com.

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman, where he’s also been a sportswriter, features editor and entertainment editor. Deeds co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.