A restaurant set to open in downtown Seymour in mid-April now has a menu, a name and an identity to match the city.
And the owner has begun hiring managers and kitchen managers.
“We think we’re going to need 25 to 30 people here,” said Dave Lawrence of Rails Craft Brew and Eatery.
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Lawrence, who lives in the Louisville area, said he kicked around some names for the restaurant, and Rails just seemed to be a natural considering Seymour’s ties to the railroads. The east-west CSX and the north-south Louisville & Indiana Railroad lines cross just east of the restaurant, and Seymour was established in the early 1850s because of that crossing of rail lines.
The restaurant, featuring steak, seafood, chicken, salads and more, will be at 112 St. Louis Ave. along the north side of the CSX rail line.
Tricia Bechman, president of the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce, said the addition of Rails will help spark additional downtown development.
“It just takes a couple of things,” she said. “It’s going to take some time. It won’t happen in three months.”
The food service jobs will go to local people, but Lawrence said he plans to bring some of the people who have worked with him in the restaurant business in the past to help get Rails’ new employees prepared for the opening.
Besides food, Rails will feature craft beers from throughout the area.
“Craft beers have really taken off,” Lawrence said. “I have a background in steaks. I don’t have a background in craft beers, but I’m learning.”
Lawrence said he has been involved in the food industry for 40 years, mostly in the Louisville area. He also lived in Indianapolis for 15 years.
He likes Seymour because it’s about halfway between his hometown and Indianapolis.
He said he also likes the sense of history older buildings in downtown areas can bring to a business such as a restaurant.
Rails will be in the Cordes Building, built in 1890.
Local businessman Tom Goecker owns and is renovating the building, which housed Cordes Implement until the 1970s. That’s when Charlie Cordes moved the business to where the state highway garage is located just east of Meadowbrook Drive.
Lawrence said Goecker has done a great job of renovating the building while maintaining its historical character.
Goecker is adding a patio for outdoor dining, and there will be a bar downstairs with a garage door-type window that can be raised during the warmer months so patrons can sit, eat and drink and talk while looking out on St. Louis Avenue.
Renovation of the upstairs area is nearly complete, and the open area may be used for a small concert hall, a meeting room or a waiting room for those wanting to dine. It will have a portable bar, but a full bar might be added beneath a skylight down the road, Lawrence said, depending on how the business grows.
Bechman said Rails will offer a fare that will attract people looking for something a little bit different downtown. It could lead to other restaurants and shops opening to take advantage of more people downtown, she said.
“It’s a nice piece of the puzzle,” Bechman said.
Lawrence said he missed out on an opportunity to be involved in a key project in the revitalization of downtown New Albany about five years ago and that’s why he’s interested in Seymour’s downtown now.
In the future, Lawrence said, he may look at other types of restaurants in the downtown area, but it depends on the needs of the community.
Rails will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. weekends. A lunch menu will feature sandwiches.