Fans of Red River Brewing Co. and their resident food truck The Fat Calf have reason to celebrate – the two businesses have formed a partnership and will be transforming the Red River brewery into Shreveport’s first true gastropub.
WHat’s a Gastropub? It’s a bar and restaurant that’s characterized by offering high-end beer and food. In the case of Red River, they’ll be brewing the beer in-house while The Fat Calf serves up their take on traditional pub food.
The muscle behind the Fat Calf is chef Anthony Felan, a force in the Shreveport food scene who opened up Fat Calf last year and saw instant success.
“I wanted to take a chance,” Felan said about his decision to open The Fat Calf. “I wanted something more family-friendly and more relaxed, I just wanted to get back to cooking.”
Felan has had a successful career in restaurants and worked as a chef in San Francisco before coming back to Shreveport to start a family. Now, Felan says he’s able to spend more time with his wife and son, and that’s really what it’s all about. Several of the staff at The Fat Calf are his friends and family, and he says that’s the key to their success.
“They normally tell you not to hire your friends and family but its worked out great for me,” Felan said.
Their first step towards making the gastropub a reality is bringing the Fat Calf inside the brewery. That way customers won’t have to wait outside – or leave their beer to get service. Red River opened up a lot of their warehouse space to accommodate the food truck.
They also plan on converting some of the Brewery’s space into a prep kitchen to streamline the cooking process, creating a banquet room for special events, and partnering with Smith Family Farms to create an artisan butcher shop inside the brewery as well.
“I want this to become a destination and help put Shreveport on the map,” Felan said.
Putting Shreveport on the map, and building something that Shreveport can be proud of is the zenith of the original idea. Felan has long been dedicated to the food scene here, and regularly hosts a dining club. Together with Jared Beville, Felan is hoping the new Red River concept will become the spot for Shreveporters to gather and relax.
“Whether it’s a few people coming in for lunch, or a whole family coming in for dinner, we want this place to be the neighborhood bar that all Shreveporters want to be,” Felan said.
One of the way’s Felan hopes to accomplish this is by keeping the establishment kid friendly. He says that allows parents to come out for a good time without having to worry about finding a sitter, and the presence of kids usually keeps everyone on their best behavior.
In addition to bringing Fat Calf inside, the renovations, and the butcher shop, Red River will also begin to serve wine and spirits. Felan hopes to cater to the “wine and cocktail crowd” and says Red River will have a few signature cocktails to start out with, and a full complement of fine wines.
Jared Beville feels the same, that’s why he decided to convert Red River Brewing’s license from a manufacturer to a microbrewery, which still allows Red River to produce its award-winning beer but will also allow for the addition of outside wine and spirits. The trade-off, at least for now, is that Red River beer will only be sold at its facility, so fans will have to come to the source to get their fill of Red River beers.
If all goes according to plan, Felan and Beville hope that their business will help bring growth to downtown.
“It would be great if by attracting more business we could get more people from Shreveport to visit downtown,” they said.