Woodbury’s new destination for burgers, brews, bourbons and more.
Restaurant managers David Breen and Ben Berry have worked together at Tri-City Restaurant Management for over a decade. The pair began brewing a gastro pub concept back in 2012, and that shared vision became a reality in April with the opening of Tamarack Tap Room in Woodbury. Berry, the location’s general manager, described the new restaurant as “a comfortable neighborhood gathering spot [serving] upscale bar food” with a focus on “fresh, local and seasonal products.” Their 72-tap system features craft domestic and international brews; they also offer a wide variety of bourbons, craft cocktails and wine.
Berry is a certified sommelier with the Guild of Master Sommeliers, and a certified wine and spirits specialist. “He’s a chef behind the bar,” says Breen, the company’s president, who brings the culinary expertise to the endeavor. After years as a chef, Breen worked his way up to management and has now managed close to 20 restaurants over the course of his career, often as many as eight at a time.
“I always wanted my own place,” Breen says. “What I like best is craft: anything that requires time—that can’t be mass produced.” The tap room is a departure from his prior experience in large hotel kitchens, and he’s especially keen on the opportunity to ensure the quality of each and every plate. “Instead of making 20 gallon batches … you’re making one. It tastes so much better that way.” Top quality is de rigueur in the meat department as well; rather than processed meat, the menu features freshly butchered cuts. Breen declares Tamarack’s ground round “the best you’ve ever had in your life.”
The pair explored locations in Minneapolis before finding their match in Woodbury in the former Champps Americana location. “It was love at first sight,” Breen says. “Once we took down all the posters and weird stuff, it looked really beautiful.” Rustic additions like reclaimed barn wood and corrugated metal enhance the natural brick, metal and glass elements that were already in place. The pair also commissioned a large mural depicting the brew room at Stillwater’s Lift Bridge Brewing Company.
“The kitchen needed a lot more [work],” Breen says. They modernized the equipment and refrigeration system, repaired the wood-burning stove and installed a higher quality grill. A 10-foot long charbroiler and a good number of deep fryers were removed to make way for additional burners, grills and the 22 individuals who now share the workspace. Breen says, “If you want to do things from scratch, you need lots of [specialized] personnel. You want amazing pastries, you need to hire a pastry chef.” Designing and installing a stainless steel tap system that feeds 60 different taps took up most of their attention and resources, says Breen, who describes the result as “one of the coolest systems [he’s] ever seen.”
Also vital to Tamarack’s status as “more than your average tavern” is the 1,000-member “Founder’s Club,” which allows the managers to tap into the wisdom (and funding) of the masses. For a $250 annual fee, members get their name on the wall and one free beer at each visit. More importantly, they have the opportunity to weigh in on the selections at their local watering hole by participating in a real-time, members-only discussion forum. “A lot of people out there have very particular tastes when it comes to beer, and they put a lot into developing their tastes,” Breen says. One reason he and Berry are reaching out to these (affectionately-termed) “beer nerds” is that “72 taps is a lot of beer.” He also views this as a means of bolstering small, local breweries.
Breen and Berry look forward to expanding to other cities across the Midwest in the coming years with the ambition of opening five unique restaurants within the next decade.
Tamarack Tap Room
8418 Tamarack Village