BOISEDEV MEMBER PREVIEW STORY
Last month, PreFunk Beer Bar drained the kegs and locked the doors.
After six years, the old building at 1100 W. Front will get a thorough makeover, a new name – and new partners in the business.
TJ Sayles and his ownership group will join current owner Justin Flynn in the new venture. His wife Missy and business partner Chris Navarra launched Prost on 8th St. in Downtown Boise in 2015, and North End Pizza in 2016. Now they’re excited to take PreFunk to the next level.
This Fall, Matlack’s Public House and Beergarten will open in the revamped space. (PreFunk Nampa, also owned by Flynn, will remain open with its current concept intact).
“Over the years we’ve befriended Justin who owns PreFunk Boise,” Sayles said. “PreFunk Boise is the first place when our group came in 2013.”
Something new, somewhere old
Roy Rodocker built the service station building in 1935 for $1,500. Over time, it hosted an ambulance service company, and an events business before PreFunk opened.
Sayles said Matlack’s will honor the building’s heritage with a vintage service station vibe. But they don’t want to take it too far.
“We don’t want to be a museum,” he said. “There’s a fine line between vintage and modern. At Prost, our employees don’t wear lederhosen. We’re not trying to be a theme park.”
Sayles said the 1930s era building is an asset for Downtown Boise.
“We want to honor the building. There’s a lot of nice shiny new buildings in downtown. It’s nice to have older spots.”
Matlack’s will honor Flynn’s grandfather by using his name.
“He really (represents) that mid-20th-century post-World War Two-spirit and some ups and downs in his life,” Sayles said. “And we think it’s a cool name, and we wanted something that Justin could be proud of.”
New food, drink changes
Beyond the name and concept, the new venture will change in many other ways.
Workers will install a small kitchen. That will allow foodservice, of course, but give Matlack’s the ability to welcome families with children under 21. (Idaho code doesn’t allow minors to be present in an establishment that sells alcohol only).
While the menu isn’t set – Sayles said they know what won’t be on offer: the usual suspects.
“No fries, no tots, no tacos, no pizza, and no burgers,” he said with a chuckle. “We are going to have a smoker, and we have some ideas that we are working with – from smoked meats, sandwiches, salads and charcuterie boards.”
Matlack’s Boise will continue, like PreFunk, to eschew hard liquor in favor of beer, wine and ciders. Sayles said they will pare back the tap list to 16-18 handles. The team will focus on rotating craft beer options – as well as some German and European options.
The building itself will get a new heating and AC system, upgraded fixtures, a few TV screens and a reconfiguration of the bar.
They also hope to “soften the patio up.” Sayles lamented the high-traffic volume of Front St., but says they will work to put in a “nice beer garden” out front to help give the patio a better vibe.
‘Bullish on Boise’
He thinks the time is right.
“We want to be more of a destination on that end of town – on 11th St. There’s a lot going on there. If you want to grab a beer and watch Monday Night Football – we won’t be a sports bar, but a place to go. We hope that, if you have a good spot, if people think it’s worth it, they’ll go.”
This will be the group’s third establishment in Boise – along with offerings throughout the Pacific Northwest. But Sayles said Boise has something special.
“Our group is really bullish on Boise. We have concepts in Seattle and Portland – and it’s a hard business everywhere – but (our group) really like it here because it’s growing and there’s room for stuff in certain neighborhoods. Our company is not rocket science – we try to do a couple of things really well – service and quality products.”
Correction: Updates to correct Justin Flynn’s last name.