Royal Docks Brewing Company and Crave announce joint venture in Akron’s Merriman Valley.
This will be a great addition to some of our other favorite restaurants and breweries in the valley, like R. Shea Brewing, The Merchant Tavern, Papa Joe’s, Sushi Katsu, Sushi Asia Gourmet, and the Quarter Up Bar Arcade.
Full Release, September 2019:
AKRON – Royal Docks Brewing Company of Jackson Township and Crave restaurant of Downtown Akron announce today that they are joining forces in a new taproom, brewery and kitchen to be located at 1244 Weathervane Lane in Akron’s Merriman Valley. The taproom, opening in late August, will be called Royal Docks Brewing + Crave Kitchen and will feature the complete selection of Royal Docks beers, a full cocktail bar with select wines, and a new menu that blends the hallmark simple but eclectic style found at Royal Docks’ original Jackson Township taproom with the chef-driven, new American twists that have made Crave an area staple for more than a decade.
“In a way, this is a pot that’s been simmering for over twenty years that has finally come to boil,” said Aaron Hervey, owner and executive chef of Crave and Crave Cantina in Cuyahoga Falls referring to his relationship with Royal Docks Brewmaster, Dave Sutula that started in the mid 1990s at the now long-shuttered Diamondback Brewery in Cleveland when both were second-in-command of the kitchen and brewery respectively.
Over the years the two have kept in touch and worked on other small projects together. “We’ve done a few beer dinners here and there, discussed collaborations and shared a few pints over each others bars,” Sutula said. “One thing I’ve always loved about the brewing industry is how collaborative and familial it is, so I’m naturally stoked about working with Aaron again. It’s a bit like getting the band back together.”
Sutula says that soon after the taproom opens, work will begin on a new small-batch brewery to be located in the lower level of the same building. He says that the brewery will enable the company to do smaller batches, keeping the taps full of beers brewed specially for the taproom above. “Ultimately, we want this to be Royal Docks, but also be its own experience with beers that can only be found at the Akron taproom”, he said.
The building is currently getting a makeover. “Our DNA is a contemporary American twist of traditional pub culture, so we’re installing our tile, our colours, but we’re delicately blending it with elements that are uniquely and categorically Crave,” said Royal Docks’ co-founder John Bikis. “During this process someone said that it has to be like Crave and Docks had a baby. It has to be its own thing, but still be a reflection of its parents.” Other modifications are underway as well; a deck being built on the parking lot side of the building will be ready for this autumn and soon work will begin on more exterior seating outside of the brewing facilities.
As for the kitchen, Hervey says he’s excited to work a Crave twist into the existing Royal Docks menu. “When you first look at the menu [at the original Royal Docks taproom], you immediately notice that there’s none of the expected pub grub. ” he noted. “I like that there’s a solid canvas to work around – in many ways it’s actually more exciting to evolve an existing idea than to start from scratch.”
Royal Docks Brewing + Crave Kitchen is the cornerstone in developer Tony Jaber’s plan to revive Liberty Commons as a lifestyle centre with other restaurants and retail planned for the future. In the 1980s and 90s, Liberty Commons was a community hub for the bordering Merriman, Bath and Cuyahoga Falls neighbourhoods as well as a regional dining destination. The RDB+Crave building itself once housed the critically acclaimed Maison Martel French restaurant and the city’s first brewpub, Liberty Street Brewing Co., was located just across the parking lot. “We’ve been itching to expand our taproom footprint to serve the Akron market almost since we opened our Jackson Township brewery in 2015,” Bikis said. “When all the pieces came together on this joint venture with Crave at this location in the Valley, it wasn’t a question of if, it was a question of how quickly.”