In early spring, The Celtic Pig will join a growing list of establishments that have leapt from food truck to brick-and-mortar restaurant.
The Celtic Pig, which serves barbecue and traditional Irish and Scottish dishes, will make 217 E. Main St. its home base in mid-March, according to its owners, Sam Bracken and Melissa Ingram.
“We outgrew the truck,” said Ingram, who has about 30 years of experience in food service.
Bracken added that The Celtic Pig had received an overwhelming amount of catering and event requests that it can’t manage them all, and people would often ask about a stationary location, something that was a goal for the business from the start.
“We always had to tell them, ‘stay tuned,’ ” he said.
For three years, Bracken and Ingram searched for a space, focusing on La Grange, where the business got started selling barbecue in a tent on the side of the road before firing up the food truck four years ago.
“We just weren’t able to come up with the right combination of factors, a building that didn’t need much renovation, a landlord we could work with,” Bracken said.
They found those in the downtown location, the former home of Main Street Cafe attached to the Ice House. It already had a commercial kitchen; the owners were looking to invest in renovations, and they secured a “competitive lease rate,” Bracken said.
The address also is close to Slugger Field, Waterfront Park, the Humana Waterside building and multiple hotels.
“We just thought ‘Wow, this is actually pretty great,’ ” Bracken said.
And the truck gave them something important, a brand following, that they hope will benefit the business as they open a brick-and-mortar location.
“We are not starting cold with trying to get people into our restaurant who have no idea what food we do,” Ingram said. “It seems like that is the biggest struggle for new restaurants.”
The Celtic Pig will serve up favorites from the food truck for lunch and dinner (and may later add breakfast or brunch).
The menu will include well-known dishes like fish and chips, shepherd’s pie, beef stew, Scotch eggs, sauerkraut balls, pulled pork, ribs
It also will offer some grab-and-go items for downtown workers who need a quick lunch, Ingram said.
The Celtic Pig will have 92 seats upstairs, including an outdoor patio area, as well as a small basement-level Irish pub with 26 seats. The pub won’t open until April.
Bracken and Ingram are planning an April 20 grand opening event.
While the restaurant will have the feel of a great hall, the pub will have steampunk influence with the original brick walls and metal, Bracken said
A space in the basement where ice was formerly stored — way back when the Ice House was an actual ice house — will become a 10- to 12-person snug. Across the pond, a snug can be a booth with doors for privacy or a small gathering room.
The Celtic Pig is looking to hire a dozen employees to run the food truck and the new restaurant and pub.