Four years ago, if you were heading out to discover a great tap list, you were most likely going to St. Paul. Then, high school pals Matty O’Reilly and Rick Guntzel decided to bring a food-centric craft beer experience across the river in Minneapolis. It took about eight months after coming up with the name Republic for the duo to open their doors to the public. “He [Rick] took a leap of faith and quit his job before we even got the space” says Matty.
Town Hall Brewery was already brewing great beer across the street, but the two entrepreneurs took note of the neighborhood and its proximity to the savvy faculty members from the University of Minnesota. This was the place to be. “There was already a great craft beer culture on the corner with Town Hall Brewery. We thought what we were doing was really complementary” Matty explains.
What Republic brought to Seven Corners, four years ago, was a wide selection of those national, craft brews that couldn’t easily be found around town. Selections such as Founders, Deschutes, and Lagunitas. As time has passed, the focus has come to center on quality, local beers. “At that time I would say that the credible list wasn’t near as big as it is right now. We were on more of a national level at first with our beers. Belgian beers were the other angle we took. There’s a lot more competition [on the local scene], which makes everyone put out their best beer” says O’Reilly. Minnesota brews now make up 40% of the beer menu, a statistic that Matty is proud of. “If it’s local its great, but quality comes first. Quality and local is even better.”
The real focal point of Republic is the food, which has an approachable price point and healthier options than most pubs. O’Reilly takes pride in the fact that the portion sizes are reasonable, and that not everything on the menu is from the deep fryer—a welcomed approach in one of the healthier metro areas across the nation. The menu features everything from a kale salad to a duck burger with soy ginger slaw. Throw in mock duck tacos, a beer brat, poutine, and you have a pretty diverse offering.
The business has been so successful that they opened a second location in Calhoun Square a couple years ago. Last year, they even added a food truck called Red River Kitchen, which runs all summer long and features select items from the Republic menu. Nowadays Republic has been focused on expanding their beer and cider selections. With over 100 taps and numerous local and national awards, the pub that took a chance opening on the West Bank corner is celebrating four years in business and they aren’t looking back.
O’Reilly now has a total of four brick-and-mortar restaurants (both Republic locations, Dan Kelly’s, 318 Café) and a food truck (Red River Kitchen) to keep him busy. “It’s been a fun ten years and I’m excited about the future.” Well said, Matty. Well said.
If you go:
Monday, May 18th 2015
Cedar Cultural Center
416 Cedar Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Pre-sale tickets $10