Underground Kitchen & Delicatessen is partnering with the developer of the newly-renovated, historic Garver Feed Mill on Madison's East Side for a restaurant and social space called Garver Events.
The restaurant will cater to families, but the real heart of the project is a community space for weddings and other events that owner Jonny Hunter said the East Side needs.
"The Garver Feed Mill is trying to figure out how to engage the public, so we're going to have a social space that's going to have some programming," Hunter said.
He plans to host events similar to the 2-year-old Makeshift Festival, which features local restaurant vendors and artists in a different city park each summer, although the festival is taking this year off.
"It's going to be one of the most impressive event spaces in Madison," Hunter said. "There's not a lot like it. It will create this super-centralized East Side destination that will draw people to it."
The new space will also allow Underground to better collaborate with nearby Olbrich Gardens, for which it does a lot of catering.
The restaurant and bar space will be "pretty low-key," healthy, and family-friendly, Hunter said.
Garver Events, 3241 Garver Green, which runs parallel to Capital City Trail, and is off Fair Oaks Avenue, is scheduled to open in the fall.
"The building is just about finished and we're getting ready to begin construction," Hunter said, noting that the venue will start hosting events in September before the restaurant opens.
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Hunter called it "a bit of a reorganization" for the Underground Food Collective because he, Underground, and Garver Feed Mill's developer, Baum Revision, a historical renovation company based in Chicago, are working together to create the space.
The capacity for Garver Events is 530 indoors and 280 outdoors. It will have an outdoor patio as well as a courtyard in back, on the north side of the building. The dining room and bar will be on the first floor with a small balcony on the mezzanine level. The mezzanine space on the second level will be used for private dining and changing quarters for wedding parties.
The space has events set up for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS), and an opening reception for Sitka Salmon Shares, which will also have a presence at Garver.
Other food-related tenants include the vegan Surya Cafe, Calliope Ice Cream, Ian's Pizza and NessAlla Kombucha.
Hunter, a James Beard nominated chef, co-founded Underground Food Collective, which also runs Underground Butcher. He's also the primary owner of Forequarter and is a partner in The Heights. The collective had the well-regarded Underground Kitchen, which was lost to a fire in 2011.
The menu at Garver Events will include light salads and entrée salads and the rice bowls Underground serves at festivals and from its food truck.
Hunter also plans to offer the hard shell tacos they make from scratch and sell during Forequarter's popular happy hour. One of the sample menu items at Garver Events is spiced lamb tacos with creme fraiche and cheddar.
Other a sample menu items include bar snacks like Vadouvan (an Indian curry blend) spiced quail; smoked salmon with dill and creme fraiche; tarts with ricotta and oven-dried heirloom tomatoes; Hook's cheddar crackers and Underground Meat sticks; seasonal vegetables, roasted and chilled and served with yogurt, pesto or peanut sauce for dipping.
Hunter took part in a neighborhood meeting about Garver Events' proposed alcohol license Monday night at the Goodman Community Center that he described as "positive." Garver Events' license goes before the Alcohol License Review Committee Wednesday.