Owner surveys damage at Boylan Bridge Brewpub in 2016
The picture-perfect view from Boylan Bridge will stay the same, but the bar of old is going away.
Boylan Bridge Brewpub, one of Raleigh’s first microbreweries and brewpubs, is closing as we know it Sunday. In its place will be a new gastropub called Wye Hill Kitchen + Brewing.
Husband and wife Chris Borreson and Sara Abernethy bought Boylan Bridge Brewpub last year from original owner Andrew Leager. Next week, they will start the work of turning the restaurant into Wye Hill.
Wye Hill’s kitchen will be run by Kyle Fletcher, previously of bu.ku Wake Forest and Standard Foods, and new beers from brewer Brad Wynn of Big Boss Brewing. Bobby McFarland, previously of Royale and Cafe Lucarne and currently part of Snap Pea Underground, put together the new menu.
The restaurant will be more vegan and vegetarian friendly than perhaps most brewpubs out there. A sample menu for this summer includes bar snacks that are almost all vegetarian, including fried pickled okra, sauteed snap peas, rosemary chipotle fries and cauliflower hummus.
Omnivores will find plenty of meat dishes among the entrees, including steaks, shrimp and grits, pork chops, but also an entirely vegan double Impossible burger.
Leager opened Boylan in 2009, bringing with it a view that launched a million selfies. It was something of a pioneer in a city now brimming with independent brewers.
But a freak structural collapse in 2016 kept it closed for more than a year. It briefly reopened last summer, and Borreson and Abernethy bought it last fall.
After the lights go out Sunday, the owners said they’ll begin a brief renovation, painting, updating seating and logos. A pop-up is planned for Wednesday, May 29, and Borreson said he hoped to hold a grand opening in early June.
The new owners announced the closing earlier this week on the Boylan Facebook page.
“Boylan Bridge Brewpub has had the honor to serve the Raleigh community for the past decade, and we want to give a HUGE thank you to all of you who have supported Boylan over the years,” the owners wrote in a Facebook post. “Those of you who had your first date here, met your spouse here, celebrated a milestone or a birthday with loved ones - please come share your stories with us this week! We know they are plentiful.”
Boylan Bridge owner plans
Leager started a machine shop in the downstairs part of the building in 2005 and then opened the brewpub four years later, he said.
“I had been homebrewing for 10 years when I thought, ‘Why lease this out when I could open it myself and have the benefit of two businesses?’” Leager said by phone Thursday morning.
When a water leak led to the 2016 wall collapse, Leager had plans to add a distillery to the operation, but he said the incident and recovery was too great of a financial blow. Now with Boylan Bridge Brewpub sold and poised to rebrand, Leager said he will remain in his downstairs shop, now as a place to build whiskey barrels.
In 2009 when the bar opened, it was somewhat off the beaten path in downtown Raleigh. Now, with buildings like The Dillon and the renovated Union Station in the Warehouse District, development has reached the brewpub.
“The waves are lapping at our feet,” Leager said. “I don’t have any regrets. Everything is in the future for me. Ten years in the brewpub business is enough for any stout human being. I’m glad to be finished with it. I’ll let them do what they can do.”