Red Point Taphouse opens

Published 6:30 pm Tuesday, June 29, 2021

On a reclaimed wood shelf above Red Point Taphouse’s bar sits a shoe the newly-opened craft brewery’s general manager, Julie Hess, believes dates to 1929 when the building was constructed as one of Smithfield’s early gas and service stations.

She and her husband, Nick, who co-own the establishment with Derek Joyner and Tim Ryan, found it in the building’s attic last year during renovations. Rumor has it, the station’s original owners were of the superstitious type and placed the shoe in the building’s rafters to ward off evil spirits.

And there it sat undisturbed for decades as the structure was repurposed time and again for about a dozen tenants.

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Red Point Taphouse, the first dining establishment to open in Smithfield since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, is named as a nod to the building’s history as the Red Point Service Station.

Nick and Joyner, both of Smithfield, met as coaches for a local youth baseball program, where they learned they each had experience in the restaurant industry. It was there they began hatching plans to open their own restaurant in town — one themed around the history of the area. In the summer of 2020, they brought on a third owner, Tim Ryan, a long-time home-brewer who agreed to handle the beer-making end of the business.

Getting the town’s approval for the concept took “a lot of back and forth” with Smithfield’s Planning Commission and zoning staff, Julie said, since the building had never been used as a restaurant before and wasn’t zoned for it. Once the group obtained the necessary permission, they gutted the building down to its studs and concrete pad foundation.

When the circa-1730s Pierceville homestead on Grace Street was demolished last year, the group had the opportunity to reuse wood from the site to reuse in their renovations, including a beam from New York that is stamped as such and can now be seen above one of the restaurant’s tables.

The pandemic postponed the inspections needed for the restaurant to open, but Julie called the delays “a blessing in disguise.” Had the roughly 750-square-foot eatery opened during the height of COVID-19 capacity restrictions, it would have been severely limited in its seating options, she said.

Despite the small space, they’ve even managed to locate the brewery operation on-site, tucked away in a corner. Currently, there are two homemade brews on tap: Jillie’s Amber and an IPA called Amarillo by Oregon, but more are coming. The restaurant also offers cocktails made with Isle of Wight-based Blue Sky Distillery spirits, and entrees made with locally-sourced meats and produce. Mike’s Country Meats in Suffolk is among their suppliers.

Red Point’s dinner menu, which Julie described as “elevated southern” is available on its Facebook page.

“The owners and their families are going to be hands-on and visible to our guests,” Julie said. “We are excited about the taphouse and want to get to know folks.”

There’s also a fenced, lighted patio outside with additional seating and a deck where the restaurant plans to host live music.

“We tirelessly worked around the clock for months to get this building just right,” Julie said. “The people of Smithfield have been very supportive of revitalizing a historic building from 1929.”

And unlike some nationwide restaurant chains reporting post-lockdown staffing shortages, “We were fortunate to hire some really genuinely kind, hard-working staff who were excited to give the new spot a try,” Julie said.

The Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new restaurant June 18.

“It has been a lot of work to get to this point, but the positive feedback has made the effort worth it,” said co-owner Tim Ryan in an Isle of Wight Chamber of Commerce press release. “We want to provide a place that delivers local food and drinks of exceptional quality, that is a place where people can relax and enjoy the company of others, and that highlights the history and community feeling of Smithfield.”