Jeff Sharp and Rick Russell are band members and music fans. They’d been on the lookout for about 10 years for a great community hangout—from a music standpoint.
When Sharp, now co-owner of The Englewood in Hershey, met me in the new lobby, the first question I asked him was, “So, how’d you discover this place?”
Their band, The Hockersville Station, played Americana/alternative country on Thursday nights at the nearby farmers market.
“We’d be jamming with a good view of the farm and the dilapidated barn, look at it and think, ‘Huh,’” Sharp said.
As music fans themselves, they didn’t believe there were enough good places in the Hershey area for music.
“There is so much talent in this area,” Sharp said. “We wanted a listening room as opposed to some club or theater. No dive bar. And if we were gonna have something like that, we wanted a great brewery to go along with it.”
Enter The Englewood.
Dating as far back as 1861, The Englewood was once a strawberry farm, then a dairy farm that provided milk to Milton Hershey for his chocolate. The main building is the old barn, a gloriously red-roofed structure now completely transformed from its origins as a cavernous cattle barn.
The massive renovation project entailed removing cattle shoots, taking down cement walls and generally removing over a century of cow. To preserve as much of the barn as possible, the contractors cob-blasted wood beams, cleaned limestone walls, repurposed barn wood for the bar counters, and installed new windows that mimicked the old ones.
They were three weeks away from finishing construction on the barn when COVID-19 hit. Sharp gave a smile with a shrug.
“The delay allowed us to do a slow rollout,” he said. “The silver lining here is that we got to ease into it without changing the experience for our guests.”
All the Senses
Managed by Tom Scott, former owner of McGrath’s Pub and Scott’s Grille in Harrisburg, The Englewood’s main entrance boasts a welcoming hallway. From there, I entered a cozy tavern on the main level and was told it will serve Pennsylvania wines and spirits. I then stepped onto the outdoor deck, which overlooks the grounds, a patio space with a fire pit, and the lower level brewery.
The Englewood is music-focused, so the two-tier, 650-person event space is the wow factor. It hosts the main level area, including the stage and movie screen, and a mezzanine with couches and plush seating. Lancaster-based Clair Brothers installed the sound systems.
“They’ve got the best performance sound system in the industry, as far as world tours,” said Sharp.
In addition to the sound system, the venue has a spacious green room and plenty of parking.
Chef Matt Miller runs the lower level restaurant’s state-of-the-art kitchen, which brings to life a casual menu. Sharp talked up Miller’s pizzas and the “Barn Burger,” a seasoned short rib, brisket, chuck and bacon combo with cheddar cheese. Housed in what used to be the milking parlor, the restaurant has a brick fireplace and a wood-fire oven with counter seating. Doors lead to the outdoor patio. And let’s not forget the brewery, also on the lower level.
For that, the owners sought out Rubber Soul Brewing co-founder Jesse Prall, who will run the brewery on a seven-barrel system. I asked Prall about the beers he likes and what he plans to offer.
“I get this question a lot, and it’s hard for me to put my finger on the exact beers I like,” he said. “I do prefer to brew more traditional styles and leave out the ‘off the wall’ stuff.”
Prall describes himself as a “seasonal-style drinker.”
“I like the wheat and Belgian beers during the summer, but then in the fall/winter, I get more into the darker beers, like stouts, porters and dubbels,” he said. “And don’t get me wrong—I dig a good IPA. All that being said, I will offer the gambit depending on the season.”
Six core brands are on tap all the time: session IPA, IPA, DIPA, lager, amber and chocolate milk stout. Six other taps will be in rotation.
This is Prall’s 20th year brewing. He got his start cleaning kegs on Sunday evenings at Appalachian Brewing Co. in Harrisburg.
“The electric steam boiler was cheaper to run on Sundays,” Prall said.
He met his brewing mentor at ABC and then eventually took over the position of head brewer. After spending around five years there, he ended up in Delaware, working at Dogfish Head for 10 years as a head cellarman, production planner and brewing manager.
“There is where I learned even more and was ready to take on something of my own,” he said. “Here’s where Rubber Soul happened. Even though it didn’t last long, I still gained something from it. I want to grow The Englewood brand both in-house and outside to the public.”
At that point, my tour was complete, with all bases covered—the music, the food, the beer.
“We wanted a vibe that tapped into all the senses,” Sharp said.
He ticked off all five on his fingers.
“The sound of the music, the smell and taste of the food, the comfortable décor and the scenery,” he said.
Angela Moramarco, marketing and creative director, summed it up with a snappy catchphrase.
“Eats, brews and beats,” she said.
The Englewood is located at 1219 Research Rd., Hummelstown. For more information, visit www.englewoodhershey.com.