Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • Mark Twain Brewing Co. at Moses Bates Public House opening expected in June

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  • In a little more than a month, the long-vacant historic building at the northeast corner of Main and North streets will be alive with activity. While subcontractors tie up the loose ends of the infrastructure, and as skilled hands transform the interior from warehouse bones to industrial chic, an enrichment for Hannibal gathering emerges.
    With an expected opening of the Mark Twain Brewing Co. at Moses Bates Public House in mid June, the fruition of many dreams come together. Bill Martin, a son of Hannibal, experienced contractor and entrepreneur, overlooks the area of this vast space, which is destined to offer a unique dining experience to residents and town visitors alike.
    Partnering with fellow visionaries Wes Martin and Lance Smith, a microbrewery has grown from the dust.
    And that dust was extensive.
    As far back as Bill Martin has been able to research, this building has been used for some type of manufacturing. The current building was constructed in 1915-16, “and it replaced a building of the same footprint built in 1815,” he said.
    At one time “cabs and beds for Model T Ford delivery trucks were manufactured in this building,” Bill Martin said. “My great-great-grandfather ran the company for awhile. He knew how to run a business and he knew all of the tradesmen.”
    Coming full circle, he finds himself in basically the same situation. The dream he shares with Wes, his son, and Lance, his nephew, is based upon basic business principles. And by looking around the bustling construction site, it becomes apparent that Bill knows the key tradesmen, too. They are working in unity to bring the elements of function together.
    “This project exemplifies a collaboration between the tradesmen,” he said, including the alarm system, sprinklers, HVAC, plumbers and electricians.
    “I can’t imagine living in a metropolitan area and not knowing who I was going to get to work on my project,” Bill Martin said. “The trust factor makes life so much easier. The contractors know me and tell me when I have a bad idea. They have made recommendations that affect how this will turn out.”
    And when the microbrewery and dining establishment opens in a few weeks, this unique downtown Hannibal eaterie will be a reflection of the community which has supported the project since the dream was born three years ago.
    “This is about bringing more to the community, moving the standard,” Bill Martin said. “It gives more choices for more people to come downtown. It creates a sense of community. It’s important for people of the town to come downtown. I want to let the tourists see what kind of people we are.
    Page 2 of 3 - “The people who live here are friendly and gracious. Hannibal is attracting more young people than I have ever seen before. We want to create a lifestyle where young people can find good jobs, raise a family and be happy.”
    He looks at his hometown and sees so much potential. “We sit at a crossroads of two Interstates. We are close to St. Louis, Chicago, Springfield, St. Louis and Columbia.”
    The building itself has been named Moses Bates Public House, reflective of the town’s history. “Moses Bates founded Hannibal. His sister is my great-great grandmother on my dad’s side of the family. She traveled here with Moses Bates and she stayed in the area. Her name was Winifred Bates.” In her honor, one of the beers offered at the brewery is named the Winie Wheat Beer.
    “There is no boundary to the support we’ve received from the city, contractors, family, friends,” Bill Martin said. “I don’t know how you can ask for anything better.”
    the building
    The Martin/Smith partnership took possession of the building on March 23, 2013. “We started work within the week with cleanup and demo. There was a lot of unwanted material inside the building,” Bill Martin said.
    “We took everything down to the load bearing walls and started playing with the space.” They took into consideration the traffic flow, security and handicap accessibility. “The building itself defines how you functionalize the space.”
    They spent three or four hours “wandering around the building, scratching our heads until we came up with a floor plan we could all agree on.”
    The next step was to hire a consultant. Turnkey Brewery and Restaurant Consulting Group helped the partners decide what size of brewery to build, and the best configuration of the available space.
    Architect Mike Kettelkamp drew up plans that allowed for day-to-day alterations. On the upper part of the main floor, which will serve as the restaurant, “we had a long sloping floor we had to deal with,” Martin said. “We poured new concrete and added a step.”
    A wide staircase leads to the upper level bar.
    Food and beer
    At the same time that the work is wrapping up on the physical structure of the building, a restaurant and brewery are also evolving.
    They are developing a menu designed to take advantage of the availability of farm to table suppliers.
    Max Hoke, formerly of Lula Belle’s, has been hired as executive chef. Duane Jones will be the Sous chef. Bill Martin will serve as general manager and brewer, along with his son, Wes. Jim Bridges has been hired as assistant brewer. David Ray will manage the “front of the house” and the bar, Martin said.
    Page 3 of 3 - They are now hiring shift managers and servers.
    Phil Internicola, brewery consultant, is training the three brewers. “Wes will assist in the brewery and will be responsible for the growth of the brewery side of the business. He has been here since July. He is the key person in getting us where we are today,” Bill Martin said.
    Lance Smith will run the back end of the business as president or CEO of the company,” Martin said.
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