168 N. Loudoun Street
Winchester, VA 22601
540.535.0111
Open Tuesday-Thursday: 11am-11pm
Open Friday-Saturday: 11am-1:30am
Open Sunday 11am-5pm

April 2014 Edition

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One of the most interesting things about Brewbakers is the rich history of the building itself.  What has now become a familiar landmark on the downtown mall is actually four separate buildings ‘glued’ into a great place to dine and meet friends.  These structures have ties to many other places and people who make up the history of this wonderful town.

If we start at the very beginning;  the year is 1790 and Gilbert Meem is operating a small hotel in the 25×25 brick building set back 30 feet or so from Main Street.  The structure encompasses the dining room and kitchen of Brewbaker’s today.  It has two rooms downstairs and four up.  A fireplace in the center of the north wall provides the only heat.   Now the year 1813; Daniel Hartman, a silversmith of some reputation purchases the property.  He builds a shop in the front of the original hotel that he and his family now occupy.  Mr. Hartman is joined in business by James Meredith and 20 years later Mr. Meredith purchases the house and shop.  He operates the business until well after the Civil War.    In the late 1840’s the small shop is removed, an addition added expanding the property toward Main Street.  This area will become the Lounge and Bar.  There is a clothing store adjoining Mr. Hartman’s building to the north and a bakery on the south.

It is now 1868 and Holmes Conrad has bought the property.  He expands the upstairs creating the current façade.   A general store is operated by the Anderson family on the ground floor below rented apartments upstairs.  Next door, the bakery continues to expand to the rear and operates its shop in front.  The clothing store on the north side is the site of the Masonic Temple where in 1865 future President McKinley becomes a Mason.

In the year 1874 T.C. Lambden is operating a restaurant on the site, the first of 7 to be located at 168 North Loudoun.   The store front of the bakery to the south is now a general store.  Some years later the back addition becomes a pool hall.  This southern property today is the Martini Lounge and the back room, or Turtle Lounge at Brewbakers.  Barkers Fine Lunch opens for a short time in the 1890’s followed by the White Palace.  It is 1910 and the familiar tile floor, tin ceiling and most of the façade of the building are in place as they are seen today.  The White Palace operates continuously until the late 1960’s.  During the first half of the 1970’s we find The Fireside Restaurant, with the addition of the large fireplace in the dining room.  And for all of you who ask; no, it not original to the house.  Mr. Meem’s hearth is located inside the men’s restroom.  In the next decade more renovations occur as Mutley’s opens.  The bar is moved to its current location and the iconic oak icebox behind it is moved from the kitchen.  The front foyer is added, the side windows still have ‘M’s etched in them.  We leave the 1980’s behind and T. Jeffrey’s is now occupying the site.  In the dawn of the new millennium Brewbaker’s opens and has been in operation for 15 years, first by Dawn and Bobby Sayre and now by Laura and Monty Rhodes.

Standing in the dining room it is difficult to imagine that it was once a small brick house or that the patio was a front yard, that the walls of the lounge were once lined with household goods.  The tile entrance has welcomed patrons for over a hundred years through prohibition, the depression, wars, the space race and the age of computers.  When the first restaurant opened here carriages and wagons drove on Main Street now jets fly overhead.  Through it all one can’t help but think it has always been a happy place to come in and slow down.