Coming Soon: Bayberry Beer Hall

The American beer hall will focus on craft pours, housemade pretzels, charcuterie and more on the West Side of Providence.

A construction project is underway at 381 West Fountain Street. All the action takes place at the corner storefront between Broadway and Westminster on the West Side of Providence, in the same neighborhood as Kitchen and the Grange, and down the road from Long Live Beerworks. Stacks of lumber stand to the left. On the far wall is a large steel rack. Pipes hang overhead. A man in a welder’s helmet sprays sparks past his face. This will soon be Bayberry Beer Hall.

Owners Tom and Natalie Dennen are working to open the new restaurant in the early summer. Modeled after beer gardens that Tom visited in Munich, Germany, Bayberry aims to be an “American beer hall focusing on American craft beer and food, with nods and inspiration from the traditional German beer halls,” Tom says.

The locally sourced menu will change frequently for casual dining in a communal atmosphere. There will be shared charcuterie boards, sausage sandwiches, housemade pretzels and clams with crusty bread.

The entire concept is about openness. Nothing is hidden. Patrons will watch bakers twist pretzels and cooks grill sausages and plate charcuterie boards. It’s even possible to witness the beer flow from the keg through the lines to the tap via a custom window into the beer fridge. The building, which has beautiful, exposed brick walls, once housed a brewery. “One of the things we loved about this property is the raw aspects of it. We want to incorporate as much as we can,” says Tom.

The steel grid — Natalie’s brainchild — is for planters that will encourage greenery to climb and become a living wall. In the center of the room will be long, wooden communal tables that seat eight at a time. The description from Tom evokes the image of a community cookout in a small city courtyard, with vines crawling up the brick walls, while friends and family laugh, eat and share their lives. The homey and urbane feel of Bayberry is central to the Dennens’ vision.

“I grew up in Maine. I grew up lobstering. There were no corporations where I was from,” says Tom. That was how he envisioned his life, even though he built a career in digital marketing. He’s turning his energy to the restaurant and focusing on local farms through Farm Fresh RI. Even “Bayberry” comes from the name of his grandfather’s cabin in Maine, which was surrounded by bayberry bushes.

As first-time business owners who are new to the restaurant game, the Dennens acknowledge the stresses that come along with it. They recently hired a general manager, and are talking with staffing and payroll consultants. Dennen has even left his job at Fidelity in Smithfield to focus on Bayberry full time. That, along with caring for a one-year-old son, means the next few months are going to be hectic for the East Side couple. “The stress is something I have to push through right now,” says Tom.

“Really good beer, really good food and a sense of community”: This is Tom’s mantra as he and his wife move forward with the creation of their restaurant and beer hall. Right now everything is timber and bare floors, but when Tom describes their vision, he doesn’t see that. He sees Bayberry becoming another great addition to the distinguished dining scene of Providence. 381 West Fountain, St., Providence, 401-714-7487, bayberrybeerhall.com

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