Bites: Lovettsville’s dining scene grows with 1836 Kitchen and Taproom

This American and German restaurant opened in the former Mad Horse Brewery space.

Photo courtesy of 1836 Kitchen & Taproom
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Since Joe Brower was in high school, he’s wanted to own a restaurant. More than three decades later, after putting in a lifetime at plenty of other people’s restaurants, he can finally call one his own.

1836 Kitchen and Taproom took over the space formerly housing Mad Horse Brewery. As a Lovettsville local, Brower was a regular at Mad Horse over its many iterations, brewers and owners. When it finally closed in February, Brower gathered a group of about a dozen neighbors and presented an idea to take it over.

Now, with the combined forces of eight investors, Brower says they “virtually know everyone in town.” Brower is the face of the day-to-day operations, which makes sense: He spent his career traveling around the country managing the opening operations of mega-brands California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang’s.

But starting a small restaurant in a small town is different. “I don’t believe you can be an outside chain and be successful in Lovettsville,” says Brower. He likens 1836 to a “small-town Clyde’s, a comfortable place to get something good to eat, made by a chef.”

Jeremy Thrasher, previously of Cured Food Truck and The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg, runs the kitchen, putting together a menu of both American fare with a fried chicken sandwich, burger and shrimp and grits, plus German classics of pretzels, bratwurst and schnitzel. The latter is a nod to Thrasher’s expertise and to the town’s early Deutschland settlers.

The beer menu leans heavily on Virginia offerings, with pints from Solace Brewing Company (Dulles), Esutcheon Brewing Company (Winchester) and Ono Brewing Company (Chantilly).

1836 comes at a time when new restaurants are descending upon the emerging downtown: Thaiverse Restaurant, Rasco NY Pizza and Velocity Wings.

Opened in October after a months of renovations (the kitchen is now where the brewing equipment was), 1836—taking its name from the year the commonwealth recognized Lovettsville as an incorporated town—is decorated with images from the local historical society. But it’s not only looking toward the past. With Brower’s years of launching restaurants, it’s no surprise he’s already thinking about what’s next. Middleburg, maybe. “We don’t have plans,” says Brower of a second location, “but we sort have kicked it around.”