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The enormous new $3.3 million restaurant and craft beer bar HopCat Madison, will open at 11 a.m., July 11, giving away free orders of its "famously addictive" Crack Fries to everyone who visits.

Also, the first 200 people to visit HopCat, 222 W. Gorham St., on opening day will receive a card good for a free order of Crack Fries every week for a year.

Food Network Magazine just named Crack Fries, battered in light beer and sprinkled with black pepper, among America’s 10 Best French Fries in its July/August issue.

The nearly 11,000-square-foot HopCat Madison, owned by BarFly Ventures of Grand Rapids, Michigan, will offer 130 craft beers on tap.

The two-story HopCat was built on the site of the former Bop clothing store and Quaker Steak & Lube restaurant, and will seat about 460 people.

BarFly Ventures also has HopCat locations in Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, Detroit and East Lansing, Michigan; Indianapolis; with another planned for Lexington, Kentucky.

Initially, Mayor Paul Soglin, concerned about the ongoing decline of retail in and around State Street, resisted the business and threatened to veto its approval by the City Council. The council, however, unanimously approved the license in February.

HopCat's opening draft list will include 61 Wisconsin-made craft beers and 69 other craft beers from around the world, according to Chris Knape of BarFly Ventures.

The food menu includes specialty burgers, salads, "Killer Mac & Cheese," and a "MadTown" grilled cheese, featuring a trio of Wisconsin cheeses, ham, apple slices, garlic aioli and honey.  

HopCat has hired more than 120 people and is continuing to hire experienced bartenders and servers.

It's open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch (with the brunch menu beginning July 19). 

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Wisconsin State Journal food writer Samara Kalk Derby brings you the latest news on the Madison area's eclectic restaurant scene.