PORTSMOUTH – Liars Bench Beer Co. and Stoneface Brewing have stepped forward to operate the beer garden proposed for the Foundry Place Garage pop-up rooftop venture.
The Portsmouth Citizen Response Task Force recently voted to approve half of the $100,000 funding – authorized by the City Council to assist businesses and the downtown landscape in navigating COVID-19 impacts – specifically for the parking garage pop-up, which would feature arts performances, retail and food vendors, and a beer garden on the top two floors of the garage throughout the summer.
The pop-up was recently proposed by an independent working group comprised of business owners, arts professionals and community members including Kathleen Cavalaro, executive director of Seacoast Repertory Theatre, former city councilor Nancy Pearson, Cava co-owner John Akar, Black Trumpet Bistro owner Evan Mallet, Oomph Hair Salon owner Tanya Hart, marketing director for Seacoast Rep Brian Kelly, Diversions Games and Puzzles owner Laura Keith, and former mayor Steve Marchand.
The group is operating a website at popuprooftop.com.
The venture’s intent is to create a socially-distanced, safe environment for the public to enjoy entertainment, food and drink, while providing increased opportunities for businesses to generate revenue. The proposed opening date is July 15.
The Black Trumpet Bistro would be the pop-up’s anchor restaurant vendor, with additional restaurants rotating in and out.
Cavalaro announced over the weekend that Liars Bench Beer Co., of Portsmouth, and Stoneface Brewing, of Newington, have partnered to take on the beer garden, should the pop-up effort reach its fundraising goals and see plans approved by the city task force.
The working group is currently seeking a community match of $50,000, of which more than $26,000 has been raised thus far.
All matching donations or sponsorships will be put into escrow, the group has stated, and if it is unable to reach its goal, all funds will be returned to donors.
"We need to start building our restaurant sheds, our stage, and purchasing commercial grade restaurant equipment," the effort’s GoFundMe page reads. "We need to start making purchases of sanitation equipment and supplies. And we need to be putting out job postings, yesterday."
The Citizen Response Task Force subcommittee focusing on the Foundry Garage proposal has been meeting with the surrounding neighborhoods to answer questions and field ideas, the city announced.
During a task force meeting last week, member James Petersen said he met with a group of about 34 people who had concerns about the plan. He said those included noise, parking in adjacent neighborhoods and the venue "becoming a permanent thing." He said there was "substantial empathy" among the group for what the business community is facing.
The city subcommittee is also working with city departments, sound engineer Eric Reuter and JSA, Inc. architect North Sturtevant to determine the best layout.
Fundraising for the venture is being done at: gofundme.com/f/50k-matching-challenge-pop-up-rooftop.