NEW ALBANY — Business partners Tim Smith and Beau Kerley have been hoping to open a restaurant in New Albany or Jeffersonville for quite some time.
And when the former Gospel Bird space in downtown New Albany became available, it gave them the perfect opportunity to create their new concept. Their gastropub, The Standard Plate & Pour, is moving into the space at 207 E. Main St. Smith and Kerley are preparing to open their restaurant on June 24.
"This was pretty much a no-brainer," Smith said. "We discussed this for like two days, and it was like, how can we not do this?"
And just a few days later, they had the keys to the building. The space was home to the Gospel Bird for three years before the restaurant closed in November 2018.
Over the past 10 years, Kerley and Smith have worked together to open a variety of restaurants in the area, including 812 Pizza Co. in Georgetown and Crescent Hill Craft House in Louisville. Kerley has also been a co-owner of Bluegrass Brewing Co. in Louisville for about 12 years, and Smith has many years of experience as a chef.
The food menu at The Standard Plate & Pour will include soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers, as well as some Southern-style dishes such as po' boys. Smith, who is creating the menu, said the restaurant will be like a "pub with elevated food" or a "dive bar with good food."
The pub will also have eight or nine beers on tap, as well as a large selection of bottled beers. It will also have a cocktail and wine menu, and they plan to offer $15 bottles of wine on a daily basis. Both owners have experience with the craft beer industry, so both local and non-local craft beers will be a major focus of the pub's drink selection.
The name "The Standard" was inspired by the name of a 19th-century New Albany newspaper called the New Albany Ledger-Standard.
"We’re trying to embrace the history of New Albany and do some cool things," Kerley said. "New Albany’s having such a resurrection here lately — it’s impressive."
Smith said as he puts together the menu, he is returning to dishes he has created over his years as a chef. For example, The Standard Plate & Pour's menu will feature a steak and egg recipe that used to be on the menu of the Craft House in Louisville, and he will include an appetizer he first created when he was new to the industry — a tomato soup en croute recipe with fresh tomatoes and puff pastry.
"A lot of my recipes have been tried and true," he said. "I’m not recreating the wheel here. I’m going to go-to things that have always worked in my career and bring them to New Albany, because we’ve never been to New Albany before. And we’re excited about being in New Albany."
In addition to the full lunch and dinner menus, customers will be able to order snacks such as house-made pork rinds, salads, cheese fritters and beer cheese/pretzels from its bar bites menu. The bar bites will likely be priced at about $3 to $4, according to Smith.
"You can just have a beer and grab some pork rinds or some peanuts and sit here and watch a game," Smith said. "We're talking about the news of the day [theme] — with it being named after a newspaper, we want it to kind of be a place to talk and get your info about what's going on in New Albany."
The Standard Plate & Pour includes both a bar area and a restaurant side, and a full-service bar will be available outside on its patio — they plan to use the space's Airstream travel trailer that was converted into a bar, which was installed for the Gospel Bird. The business will be open for lunch and dinner every day, and they eventually hope to introduce Sunday brunches.
Smith and Kerley said they are upgrading the kitchen, and they have bought some new pieces of equipment that will speed up service. They removed the Gospel Bird's metal tables, and they plan to add booth seating.
They said a trained staff in both the front and back of the house will be a major priority for the business, and they will begin the hiring process on June 10. The restaurant will emphasize consistency, quality and speed, and they plan to make it easy to get in and out for lunch.
"We've been in this business a long time — we know what service feels like," Kerley said. "We know how to get there. Service is something we have a big goal to make amazing here."
Smith and Kerley said they want a casual environment where people feel welcome to show up in shorts and a T-shirt or in a business suit. Smith said the menu will have a something for everyone, whether they want a burger or something a little more elaborate.
Smith said they both love making people happy through cuisine — that's why they've stayed in the service industry for so many years.
"I love making people food and seeing their eyes get real big when they eat it, and they look at their partner and go, 'oh my God, this is great,'" he said. "For me, seeing that is like, OK, I did my job. Now let's move on to the next plate, but the next plate needs to be just as good as that plate there, and everyone needs to know that's the way this plate's going to be."