Outside Makers Alley

Makers Alley's "American cool" vibe will have you thinking that you might be in Austin, Texas, by the time you walk outside to the bar's 5,000-square-foot beer garden, complete with a sleek silver Airstream food truck.

"Being outside creates an energy that you don't always get otherwise," says Snyder, formerly of Wilmington's Columbus Inn and Brandywine Hundred's Ulysses American Gastropub. "You can walk by and be part of it. It's almost like a walking billboard. And that's good because we're off Market Street."

Even though Makers Alley is a block from Market Street, you can see the top of The Grand with the Delaware flag flying high peeking over other buildings.

 

Jim Sparks, also formerly of Ulysses American Gastropub, has been hired as chef, and he'll be in charge of their still-in-the-making menu. Snyder says patrons should expect a small, flexible menu with appetizers and sandwiches that could include everything from fried cheese curds and bao buns to a chicken confit sandwich.

A second-floor area in the main building will eventually be outfitted as a prep kitchen. Until then, Sparks will use a local commissary kitchen, officials said.

Even though Makers Alley looks like a beer garden, it technically isn't under Delaware law because they have strict definitions under Delaware Code. To be considered a beer garden in Delaware, the location cannot be less than 10,000 contiguous square feet. It must also employ a daily average of not less than 25 full-time employees.

 

The opening of Makers Alley will come only weeks following the unveiling of a similar spot, Torbert Street Social, located a few blocks north behind the Washington Street Ale House and Mikimotos Asian Grill and Sushi Bar.

Torbert is more of a mix of a speakeasy-style vintage cocktail lounge with an outdoor patio that feels like a beer garden. Bartenders there serve refined, handcrafted drinks in an environment reminiscent of other local high-end cocktail-makers such as Wilmington's Hummingbird to Mars and Greenville's Copper Dram, formerly The Copperhead Saloon.

Torbert, which was built in a historic stable that dates back to 1887 and was recently rehabbed, is only open Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The plan for Makers Alley's hours are a bit more ambitious with Buccini/Pollin Group planning on having the doors open at Makers seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., but that could be pared back on same nights based on demand.

"We don't want to be a speakeasy, a place where there's a password to get into. We want to be a known destination, a draw," Snyder says.

COMING SOON: A look at some new restaurants coming in the fall

 

Heat lamps, fire pits, blankets & vinyl parties are coming 

With fall and winter fast approaching, the outdoor area will be outfitted with heat lamps, a fire pit and blankets for revelers looking to get toasty, says Megan Babcock, general manager of Makers Alley.

Snyder says he expects to keep the outdoor area open through the end of the year: "We're going to push it as far as we can, because once the holiday season is here, people want to to have warm drinks like a hot toddy or eggnog outside."

A large glass garage door acts as a wall for one side of the bar, opening into the beer garden. Expect live acoustic music to be part of the scene, starting with afternoon/happy hour jams since Mid-Town Park residents live only a few feet away with windows facing the new bar.

The idea is to create a diverse meeting spot for both lunch, happy hour and nighttime with Snyder name-checking a bar located a block away as an inspiration of sorts: The Nomad Bar. The spot, known for its bare "Open" signage out front, is one of the most diverse bars in the city when it comes to race and age.

"We want to have an artistic flair and be a draw," says Snyder, who will set up a pair of turntables in the bar, allowing patrons to help choose the music on vinyl nights. "Nomad strikes a perfect balance. Hopefully, we'll be fortunate enough to tap into some of that magic they have created down here."

Got a tip? Contact Ryan Cormier of The News Journal at rcormier@delawareonline.com or (302) 324-2863. Follow him on Facebook (@ryancormier), Twitter (@ryancormier) and Instagram (@ryancormier).

WHERE IS IT?

Makers Alley is located at 804 Orange St. and also has a rear beer garden entrance and exit on Shipley Street. Go to facebook.com/makersalleyde for more details and updates.