- Associated Press - Sunday, October 8, 2017

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Life is returning to a onetime rail car repair shop in West Des Moines.

The Foundry, combination German-style beer hall, distillery and commissary serving a rotating group of food truck fare, will fill the cavernous brick building.

The beer hall debuts Oct. 21 with the remaining spaces to be added as they are finished.

Denver developer and Des Moines native Jorgen Jensen has partnered with Rock Island Development Co., Denver-based Slate Urban Development and a group of local business partners on the project.

Jensen credits his mother for encouraging him to take a chance on resurrecting the historic Rock Island and Pacific Railroad facility.

“She called me very enthusiastic about this building,” Jensen told The Des Moines Register . Weeks later, Janell Jensen died suddenly. Taking his mother’s advice, Jensen decided to take a look. “I could see what she was getting at,” he said.

More than two years and $5 million later, the renovation is taking shape.

The building was originally constructed in Stuart and was disassembled and rebuilt in Valley Junction in 1899 by the Chicago Rock island and Pacific Railroad.

The Foundry owners uncovered a brick floor and rail lines several layers below the current floor. They are creating a glass encasement around the discovery that will be a nod to the building’s beginnings, Jensen said.

The Hall, a gathering place for visitors to drink beer, eat from food trucks and listen to music, will be the first to open.

Nick Kuhn, owner of Beerhouse in Urbandale and a food truck proprietor, will manage the beer hall. It will be filled with 24 10-foot wood tables made from cargo car planks that will seat about 285 people.

The Hall will have 54 national and international beers on tap, as well as wine and nitro coffee.

Food trucks including Banh ME, Gastro Grub, Macubana, Top Bun, Curbin’ Cuisine, Karam’s Mediterranean Grill, The Big Red Food Truck and 515Pi will provide food on a rotating basis. Customers will order from kiosks in the beer hall or by mobile phone and pick up their food at the bar.

Kuhn also will operate a nonprofit commissary called Justice League of Food. It will serve as a food truck incubator, providing kitchen space that truck owners can rent to prepare and store their food, and training for the homeless.

Justice League of Food received a $200,000 Community Development Grant to help develop the program, which is expected to launch next year.

A third component, Foundry Distilling Co., will produce vodka, gin, rum and whiskey, as well as some specialty products. There will be a whiskey lounge for customers. Scott Bush, a Templeton Rye co-founder, will operate the distillery.

Foundry Distilling will use a 29-foot-tall, 30-inch-diameter still that was made in Iowa. It will be able to create customized barrels of whiskey for customers.

Also left to be developed is a beer garden with 8-foot high glass walls and seating for 140. The patio will include two private dining areas.

The kitchen, distillery and beer garden are set to open next spring.

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Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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