Beverage Leverage
Granite City brews up its own brand of fine food and quality beers

By Nick Pena

Diners who enjoy great food and tasty beer are in luck, because Granite City Food & Brewery is the one place where both can be found in large quantities.

Granite City Food and Brewery was founded St. Cloud, Minnesota in June 1999 by Steve Wagenheim and Bill Burdick. Featuring a menu consisting of modern American food, an upscale casual atmosphere and a full brewery, the restaurant became an immediate hit. Soon after, additional locations were opened in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Fargo, North Dakota and the restaurant has been continuously expanding ever since.

Menu items include appetizers, flatbread pizzas, soups, salads, burgers, pastas, sandwiches and succulent desserts. From Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and Honey Rosemary Filet Mignon to Grilled Salmon Oscar and the signature Granite City Meatloaf, even guests with the most discriminating tastes will be pleased with the quality, wide variety, generous portions and reasonable prices.

“We give a $25 value for $15, and that ranges from the presentation of the food to the hospitality and service that we provide,” says Brandon Fouts, culinary partner. “It’s the best quality. We don’t cut corners or buy cheap. We only buy the best product that is available to us. We prep our food fresh on daily basis, each and every day. Everything is fresh. We are a made from scratch kitchen. We have 88 or 92 items on our menu and everything we do is made from scratch.

We take a lot of time and pride in what we do. Our goal is to make every guest feel at home. We put a good presentation and twist on our food. My absolute favorite dish, not just to eat but to also to serve in general, is our Salmon Oscar. We take a six ounce salmon fillet that we season, charbroil and serve over a bed of wild rice pilaf, with a side of seasoned sautéed vegetables. We top that salmon with four freshly sautéed asparagus spears and jumbo lump blue swimming crab, which is real crab, and we top it with our béarnaise sauce. It’s my favorite dish, period. Every time it goes out it has an amazing look to it.”

This passion and commitment to quality is what sets the food above the rest, but at Granite City food isn’t everything. Fouts and his staff concentrate on providing each guest with the highest level of service possible.

“Expect to feel welcome right off the bat and taken care of,” says Fouts. “You’ll immediately start eating with your eyes as you see all the food go by. At Granite City, our slogan is ‘it’s about people and food.’ We put out a consistent product every single time. Our goal is to give the best possible service to everybody who walks in the door.”

But perhaps what makes Granite City even more renowned are its in-house brewery and famous beers. Each location brews its own beers, which are served to guests fresh on tap. After trying a Granite City beer, regular bottled beers will suddenly seem boring and bland.

“Brewing is an expensive cost if you have a full scale brewery with all the equipment, materials and a fulltime brewmaster. We had full brewing capabilities in the first two locations and from there we came up with the idea of how to transport wort, which is unfinished/unfermented beer, to our restaurant locations where it can be fermented,” says Fouts. 

“The proper term is Fermentus Interruptus™, but we like to call it “Beverage Leverage.” We have a trademark, so there’s nobody else who can do what we do. We have a central facility in Ellsworth, Iowa that produces the wort, which is then shipped out to each and every store where it’s fermented on location. We take the final steps of fermenting and finishing the beer, whether it’s filtering the beer or adding carbonation. We’re going on 22 locations across the country and so that’s how we’re able to keep our costs down. Our handcrafted beers are moderately priced & offer unique styles & flavors not typically produced by major breweries.”

Beer drinkers can celebrate and indulge by joining the Mug Club, where members are entitled to 10% off all food purchases and 25 ounce tap beers for $3.25. Points can be earned on purchases and redeemed for rewards. Members can net one point on food purchases and two points on tap beer purchases. Rewards are as follows: 300 points: $20 gift card value (food points), 600 points: $30 gift card value (beer points), 1200 points: $75 gift card value (food points), 1500 points: $75 gift card value (beer points). Exclusive parties and events are held for Mug Club members a few times each year.

Gift certificates can also be purchased and are great gift ideas for birthdays, holidays and business events. Every year throughout November and December, gift certificates are sold at a discount, making them an even greater value. A10% discount is earned by spending $100-$299, a 15% is earned by spending $300-$999 and a 20% discount is earned by spending $1000 or more.

“The most rewarding aspect of this job is just working with the people that I get to work with, which ranges from the staff to the guests walking through the door,” says Fouts. “We’ve built a lot of relationships with people here in Wichita. When I go out and about I hear how much people love the food and the beer, it’s very gratifying.”

 

SIDEBAR
Granite City’s home brewed beers

Duke of Wellington "The Duke"
Copper colored India Pale Ale with strong malt character, huge hoppy flavors and defining bitterness.

Broad Axe Stout
A traditional dry Irish stout with a thick creamy head, opaque black color and hints of roasted chocolate and coffee.

Brother Benedict Mai Bock, "The Bennie"
A medium-bodied German style lager, this Bock flaunts a mouth-watering smoothness and wonderful malt flavor.

Northern Light Lager, "The Northern"
Brewed to the American standard of a classic lager, this light gold beverage is Granite City’s mildest beer and features smooth, creamy taste.

Two-Pull! Specialty Brew
Created and popularized by guests, the two pull is a blend of
Northern Light and Brother Benedict beers.

 

QUICK STATS
Restaurant name:
Granite City Food and Brewery

Type of restaurant:
Modern American upscale casual dining with an on-site brewery

Number of locations:
Nationally: 22
Locally: 2

Year Established:
Nationally: June 1999
Locally: July 2005

Keys to success:
Offer a broad menu of items that are prepared fresh daily, served in generous portions at reasonable prices.

Hours of operation:
Open daily 11:00 am-midnight
Sunday brunch: 10:00 am-2:00 pm

Seating:
First come, first served. Call-aheads welcome with reservations available for parties of eight or more.

Nasdaq:
GCFB

Contact Info:
2244 N Webb Rd
Wichita, KS 67226
316-636-5050

2661 N Maize Rd
Wichita, KS 67205
316-721-8500

www.gcfb.net