A few weeks ago, in our New Beer’s Eve feature, we mentioned the news of a new craft brewery coming soon to Yardley. Two brothers, James and John Cain (JJC), have leased the former Bank Of America building on Main Street in Yardley with the intention of establishing The Vault Brewing Company. Their plans have been approved by the township and they are on track to open towards the end of the 2012 summer.
Walking through the unfinished space, as John told me about the plans for each area, was exciting. They have a very clear vision for their new brewery. The building is in a prime spot on Main Street and the owners are clearly putting a lot of work into creating a great experience for their patrons. They emphasized their intention of respecting the history of the building and integrating that history into their brand. One thing is for sure: after speaking with James and John about their plans, we are seriously looking forward to the potential of the future Yardley hot spot.
BH: So where did the idea to start a brewpub originate?
JJC: John and I both have had the entrepreneurial “itch” since graduating college, and it didn’t take much time climbing the corporate ladder before we decided to go into business for ourselves. The idea to start a brewpub came from a craft brewery in Melbourne, Australia called “Mornington Peninsula Brewery.” Our parents moved to Australia in 2009 and it was during one of our visits in April of 2011 that we met the founder of the brewery, Matt Bebe. Matt had left the corporate world to start his own brewery and we immediately saw the possibility of launching a similar business in our hometown. John and I both had a passion for craft beer and gourmet food so a brewpub was the perfect fit.
BH: Well, you certainly picked a great area. There is a true passion for craft brewing in Bucks County. I’ve heard that this isn’t your first attempt to create something like this. You and your brother were originally turned down for the idea to launch a brew house in the Delaware Avenue neighborhood. Tell us a little about that. What did the experience teach you, and what made you decide to keep moving forward and to find a new spot?
JJC: During our initial location search, we found a factory available on Delaware Ave. that was once occupied by Yardley Ball Corp. The old factory sat right on the river and had a great industrial look and feel. It seemed like the perfect location – except for being located in a residential district. As it turns out, that challenge opened our eyes to the concerns of our would-be immediate neighbors and the impacts our proposed use could cause. On the other side of that coin, the experience showed us the immense support the community had for our project and the overwhelming passion they had for the well-being of Yardley residents and businesses.
We were determined that Yardley was the right location for our brewpub and all that we needed to do was find the right spot. So just as one door closed, another opened. Within a week after our denial at the Zoning Hearing Board, we took our first steps into the unoccupied building that originally housed the Yardley Nation Bank at 10 S. Main St. After our first tour of the building, including its three vaults, we knew we had found the home for our brewpub.
BH: I can’t argue with you there. This is a fantastic space. How has this new location altered your approach to creating the brewing company?
JJC: For one, we changed our name. The history of the building, awe-inspiring vault doors, and ornate details of the interior and exterior could not be given the injustice of taking anything but the spotlight. So we re-named our business “Vault Brewing Company.”
In other ways, we have more closely aligned our concept with the “regal” atmosphere that a grandiose bank might impart – now combined with the modern appearance of the striking brewing equipment and copper-clad wood-fired oven. We still promise to provide excellent beer and flat breads in a comfortable, sociable, and aesthetically unique environment–only now we’ll do it bigger, and bolder.
BH: I love the concept behind the name “Vault Brewing Company”. What made you decide to renovate the old Bank of America space?
JJC: Beer and banks have a natural attraction to each other. Banks house and protect what is most sacred to mankind. And nothing is more sacred to the beer-lover than the perfect glass of craft beer. In all seriousness, the old Bank of America space was a diamond in the rough; a gem that was waiting to be polished and displayed for others to see. Simply put, we saw the potential – and we have big plans.
BH: So what type of beer selection will Vault offer? What will your seasonal offerings look like?
JJC: Our opening beers will be an IPA, a Russian Imperial Stout, an ESB (English Special Bitter),a Blonde Ale, and a Bavarian Hefeweizen. There is something for everyone in there from the beer geeks to the beer-shy. We are working with Mark Thomas, a seasoned brewer from Philadelphia, to create beers that will please any palate.
BH: We’ve heard you plan to offer food as well. What type of menu should we expect to see?
JJC: For us, the focus is on the beer. Every facet of our product offering will serve to complement the beer in some way. We believe other brewpubs fall short when trying to become a full restaurants well as a brewery. When you lose focus on the beer, one or more elements start to suffer. Our plan is to offer a limited menu that is specifically designed to pair with our beer selection. The offerings will include gourmet wood-fired flat breads and a variety of cold tapas. The bread will be baked in our beautiful Le Panyol oven from Maine Wood Heat. As our father instilled in us at a young age, “anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
BH: You can almost feel the history in this building. What type of atmosphere do you hope to create in the finished space? Will you have live music?
JJC: The atmosphere will be relaxed, social, and casual. We liken it to a mix between a classic jazz club and a modern gastropub. We plan to have live jazz music on weekends featuring local musicians.
BH: Sounds great, when are you planning to open?
JJC: If all goes according to plan, we are slated to open in mid-August of this year.