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As far as tap beer selections go in the Northland, 7 West is definitely taking the lead in selection. With 40 to 50 taps in each location, they’re taking on development of a fourth location. Rick Lampton, Managing Partner of 7 West Taphouse, showed us around the new spot they’re currently building at 2510 Maple Grove Road, and took the time to tell us a bit about their restaurants this week. The first location opened in downtown Duluth in October of 2014, at the address, 7 West Superior Street in Duluth, coining their name, 7 West Taphouse. The first location features 46 different tap lines and a food menu including burgers, tacos, salads, sides, etc. They don’t just have any taps either, but a quite impressive variety of craft brews of all varieties, “We focus on local craft beer, because there is so much to choose from around here, but we pride ourselves on having American crafted beer from all over the country,” said Lampton. The second location, in St. Cloud, opened in December in 2015, and the third, in Superior, opened in October of 2016. The newest location, near the Miller Hill shopping area, is scheduled to open near the end of the summer of 2017. Much bigger than the previous locations, the fourth will include a horseshoe-shaped bar in the center of the restaurant, and a much bigger dinning room. The layout looks promising though still under construction, with front signage soon to come, the location will be easily viewable from Maple Grove Road.
When asked about the plans for the newest location, Lampton explained, “This location, we’re kind of nicknaming the ’Next Generation’. We are adding craft cocktails, so we are not just going to have beer, we’ll have liquor also. We will have casts with liquor mixtures, for example, we’ll have an Old Fashioned that will be made with Tattersall Spirits made in Minneapolis. We’ll have draft wine, so wine will be on tap. We won’t be having your typical bar mix of cocktails, we won’t be doing the average low-end rails.”
7 West is also planning to do some new experiments with expanding their food menu. “On the food side, we’ll be adding an artisan pizza oven. A company out of Seattle (called Woodstone) who makes the rotisseries for Grizzly’s, also makes pizza ovens. I’m actually heading out there (to Seattle) soon to try out the oven in person,” said Lampton, “The oven is a stainless steel unit, with brick inside, so we’ll be cooking right on the brick at 600 degrees,” explained Lampton, “Mainly we’re going to focus on artisan flatbreads, but then we’ll start getting into some different appetizers as we go. In our other locations we don’t have ovens, so now I can do things like braised porks, or really now I can play around with a lot of new proteins that we can bake in that oven. So the new menu will be different than the other locations.”
We were curious what inspired the change to full liquor, and Lampton elaborated saying, “Our other locations, just have beer & wine licenses, which are traditionally easier to get, but we did get the full liquor license for the new location because you can actually get a full liquor license fairly easily if you’re a full service kitchen,” which they have now with the addition of the oven. “Another unique thing, we’re going to have nitro coffee on tap, so Duluth Coffee Company is in the process of kegging their Cold Press Nitro, which will add a little variety.”
Overall, it’s safe to say that 7 West has been a hit in the Midwest considering they opened their first location three years ago, and are already creating their fourth bar and restaurant to add to the list. Lampton closed out our talk mentioning their goals, saying, “We’re focusing on upping the menu a bit, still going to be the same great burgers and beers, but excited to add those artisan pizzas, and some new appetizers. The craft cocktails will be fun, we’re going to be aging those bourbons again in barrels, and pouring them ready to go. Being able to do craft cocktails, without taking too much time to make each will be great. Our goal is quality, value, and speed.”
If you haven’t tried out 7 West Taphouse yet, go ahead and check out one of their three up and running locations, and keep your eyes peeled for the fourth debuting later this summer.