First tenant Green Growler accepting customers

The Rail Yard Incubator, a new restaurant hub, has finally opened its doors in downtown Denison following delays. Green Growler, one of the anchors to the incubator, opened its doors for business this week.

Other planned restaurants on the campus are still under construction.

“This is so far outside what people expected to see in Denison, they are pretty excited about all the new options that come into the place,” said site owner Josh Massey who was relieved to be open after pursuing his dream for a little over three years. “We have really striven to bring local chefs to bring their products to eventually to be launched into their own brick and mortar spaces. There is a huge following for that. I credit the community with being supportive and helping us get here.”

Massey said he interviewed more than a dozen interested parties. He only accepted those that would fit in with the culture he was cultivating.

“If you look at the trajectory of what Denison as a community is trying to pull of in the downtown corridor, you need restaurants and beverage service to represent about a third of your tenant mix,” Massey said. “The city has been really pushing new restaurants because they see that vision. We really need to anchor that space with reputation for dining and beverage service. They have been really behind that. They support it with grants. There is the destination creation grant. They do facade grants. They are willing to finance equipment for restaurant start ups. I really feel like financially they are putting their money where there mouth is. You have a city council and a mayor interested in developing the downtown as the heart of the city.”

Massey said he hoped the restaurant hub would help Denison become what he called a culinary destination.

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The historic architecture and the art attracted him to the downtown district, and Massey was also really impressed with the plan to renovate Main Street, a project known as D3.

He said the city has made it really easy to work together to get his business going, and there were times the mayor would step in and help get things moving. Early on, the city created a committee to help him overcome all the different challenges especially when it came to remodelling the building to stay within the framework of the historic district.

One of the major challenges was how to get a duct work that combined multiple kitchens into a common duct system. He said it took creativity from everyone on that team to solve those issues as they arose.

Owner of the growler Dennis McCabe, a partner in the incubator, said it will serve as the beverage draw for the business.

McCabe said the key to the Growler is the 34 Texas based craft beers on tap in addition to 50 beers that come in cans and bottles. He said the growler is the largest selection of craft beer on tap in Grayson County.

“I like the community; I like the area,” McCabe said. “I moved up here from Dallas to open this with Josh for the incubator here.”

McCabe got into the craft beer scene six years ago when he was bar hopping with his brother in Dallas. He developed a taste for sampling craft beers and decided he wanted to get into that business. He said his draw is to pool area craft beers in a single space that will compliment the restaurants in the incubator to make it a major food draw for the area.

“One of our taps, you can't get anywhere else in Grayson County because nobody is going out of their way,” McCabe said. “512 is from Austin. We have to drive to South Dallas to meet a truck that comes up from Austin to get three kegs of beer at a time and then drive back up here to get it up here. It is fun I like it. I like beer. I like wine too.”

He said as he is driving around looking for breweries he will stop and and check out a winery along the way. He also enjoys sharing the local wines he discovers.

“The benefit of the incubator is I didn't have to pay for the build out,” McCabe said. “That's tens of thousands of dollars I saved. All I needed was inventory, permits and licenses. I can start a business I couldn't before and be more successful. We are family friendly. We have stuff you are not going to get anywhere else. It is fun. I enjoy talking to everyone that comes in.”

McCabe said all but one of the six mini restaurants would be open by the end of the day on Friday with Sliders opening slightly later. The entire incubator is planning a grand opening celebration sometime in January.

What types of food would you like to see come to the new restaurant incubator? Let Denison area reporter Richard A. Todd know by sending an email to rtodd@heralddemocrat.com. He can also be reached on Facebook and Twitter @RichardAToddHD.