Brian Carriveau doesn't expect everyone will know what a bierock is. If people confuse his restaurant's namesake savory bun to mean something about beer, though, "that's a happy coincidence."
Carriveau and his wife, Amanda Carriveau, hope to open a tavern called Bierock by May in the Northside Town Center at 1865 Northport Drive. With the help of Sketchworks Architecture in Middleton, they're turning a 2,000 square foot former liquor store into a casual restaurant with hearty stuffed buns and craft beer.
"We’d love to be the neighborhood bar for the north side and everyone who lives there," said Brian Carriveau, who handles the front of house and marketing. Amanda Carriveau, a data analyst with the Red Cross, will run the back of the house and keep the books. They live on the north side, and Brian works as a bartender for a nearby golf course.
The restaurant is "something my wife and I are passionate about," Brian Carriveau said. "We would love to become the next Madison institution."
The Carriveaus' flagship item will be bierock, lightly sweet, yeasted dough traditionally stuffed with beef, onions and sauerkraut. It's like the Texas version of a kolache (the buns, not the cookies) or a Nebraska runza. Wisconsinites might picture pasty filling inside a slightly sweet hamburger bun.
To give you a sense of what this looks like, here's a pic from Instagram:
Carriveau said the bierock recipe comes from his wife's Volga German family. They haven't hired a chef yet, but the plan is to make the dough in house.
Bierock's bierocks will likely be priced around $10-$12, with variations like rosemary lamb, tofu with kimchi and "mushroom masala" with potatoes and eggplant. Other menu items may include beer hall standards like popcorn, deviled eggs and pretzels with mustard.
At the bar, the focus will be beer, 18 to 24 draft lines split in thirds between local, statewide and national/international brews.
Carriveau has been a longtime sports writer and recently stepped away from CheeseheadTV.com. Bierock won't be a sports bar, but "when there's a Badger game on, we'll put a projection screen down nice and big so people can see it," Carriveau said. When the Packers are playing, "it would be foolish not to."
Bierock is installing an L-shaped bar and bar tables, and there will be counter service. Carriveau plans to be open during the late afternoon and dinner hours with longer hours on weekends. He hopes the restaurant draws crowds before and after Mallards games.
"Being adjacent to Warner Park and with new development going in, this spot just seemed to fit us," Carriveau said. "We have Villa Tap and Busse's Markway ... but there's not a lot tavern-wise on the north side. I think we'll fill a need."
In the Northside Town Center, openings of the Willy Street Co-op (replacing Pierce's Market) and Goodwill have added to existing businesses like Habanero's Mexican Grill, Benvenuto's Italian Grill and Meikle's Northside True Value. A Japanese restaurant from the former Ginza of Tokyo owner, Bistro Honda, is coming soon.
"The north side is revitalizing," said Carriveau. "A few years ago several spots were vacant. There are very few anymore. There's maybe one more vacant spot left in that whole facility."