Passersby no longer have to peek in the windows. After two years of planning and remodeling, The Brickhouse Food + Drink is open on Washington Square.

Co-owner Ellie Lawin describes the long-anticipated eatery as an “upscale bar and restaurant with a modern, Midwestern menu.”

There is seating for 160 patrons on two very different levels in the historic building: the bustling main floor with a large bar and choice of booth or table; and a more serene upper floor with a second bar, table seating, fireplace and couch. A rooftop patio will open next year for seasonal dining. Both bars feature craft cocktails and a wide array of draft beers.

The project took about two years to complete, longer than expected. But it was important to the owners to get everything right. “We wanted to be meticulous about the restaurant's appearance and vibe,” Lawin said. “Our stylish decor and layout was very purposefully planned to create something unique.”

Restoration was extensive on the 1886 building, one of the oldest in the downtown area (see sidebar). In addition to major infrastructure upgrades, another large-scale undertaking was excavating a deeper basement to accommodate the food preparation area.

Leading the kitchen staff is Chef Peter Christenson, who developed the all-inclusive menu. He's been head chef at Dellwood Country Club for the last five years and will continue to have responsibility for both locations. The country club's owner is a co-owner of the new restaurant.

Lawin feels there is opportunity for a restaurant like The Brickhouse in White Bear Lake.

“We love the location,” she said. “We think the restaurant enhances the entire downtown, and we're excited to bring this to the area.”

The Brickhouse is open seven days a week, 5 p.m. to midnight Sunday thru Thursday; and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday at 4746 Washington Square, White Bear Lake. They do not take reservations.

Former occupants of 4746 Washington Square

According to Cynthia Vadnais' “Looking Back at White Bear Lake,” meat markets occupied the building, built in 1886 on what was then known as Railroad Avenue, for the first two-plus decades. Charles Reif and John Bunghard were the first meat market proprietors but dissolved their partnership in 1889. The market was renamed Union Meat Market in 1890; by the late 1890s, it was Reif Brothers Meat Market. In 1900, it became Reif & Clewett Meat Market and in 1913, was Hubman & Clewett Meat Market.

King & Company bought the building sometime before 1920, selling out to C.J. Zwerenz, who changed the name to White Bear Drug. Zwerenz was a pharmacist who ran a thriving business until retiring in 1951. Other occupants have included the Wayzata Children's Shop, Margaux's Table and Maudie McBride's dress shop. Olive's Fresh Pizza Bar occupied the building for about four years, closing in 2017.


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