Beer fans will soon find the Hidden Key in Greencastle
Ground was broken March 17 for Greencastle's first modern-day brewery, part of a site that's newly branded as Station 101.
People who gathered for the Hidden Key Brewing Co. ground-breaking ceremony also learned a restaurant serving southern cuisine is planned for the building at 101 W. Baltimore St. that's been home to The Dapper House Barber Shop and Forever Young Salon since late 2021.
The building that extends back about half a block between North Jefferson Street and the railroad tracks was most notably home to the former High Line Restaurant and Railway Lounge, which closed several years ago. It's across Baltimore Street from the historic High Line Train Station.
Finding the Hidden Key
"Why the name Hidden Key Brewery Company? We all sometimes struggle with enjoying the moment. For thousands of years, beer has been the 'Hidden Key,' helping us let loose, bond with friends and celebrate life's victories," said Rick Houck.
He and his brother Tim Houck and friend Steve Bandstra are the beer-makers behind Hidden Key Brewing Co. They have a combined 20 years of experience and share more than just a love of beer.
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They are all graduates of Messiah College, now Messiah University, Rick Houck in 2011, Tim Houck in 2012 and Bandstra in 2013. They're all engineers who started their careers at Manitowoc.
"As engineers, we enjoy the process ... how can we make things better?" Bandstra said, explaining variables such as the ingredients and temperature greatly affect the outcome.
"Brewing beer is a pretty scientific process," he said. "You take X + Y + Z and make it ABC," he said.
They're always trying to improve the beer for their group of five or six couples that regularly hang out together. They've had countless brew sessions in driveways, backyards and garages, and their wives have endured endless discussions about beer.
Brewing in the driveway when it's 15 degrees outside and then washing the equipment isn't a lot of fun.
The trio is looking forward to a 28-by-25-foot indoor brewing area with a 10-by-16-foot walk-in cooler. The brewery will have metal siding for an industrial look and will be constructed just north of the existing patio, with a large window so people sitting on the patio can see inside.
Before winter, they hope to enclose the patio for more seating in the space Hidden Key will share with the yet-to-be named restaurant.
They also plan to have a beer garden, possibly with a stage, and a secret garden.
Rick Houck called it "a unique space for people of Greencastle to go" to hang out outdoors with family, friends and maybe pets while enjoying beer and food.
"There are plenty of places to go in Franklin County, but none with an outdoor oasis," Bandstra said.
"The back is insane," said Nick Searfoss, who owns the building with his wife, Megan. "There's going to be a secret garden ... it's going to be great."
Down the street
Nick Searfoss opened The Dapper House Barber Shop at 112 E. Baltimore St. in September 2018. The couple was thinking about moving the barbershop, drove by the beautiful building at 101 W. Baltimore St. all the time and purchased it in October 2021.
The Dapper House, located at the front of the building along West Baltimore Street offers a comfortable, pampering space for guys to get away, complete with adult beverages.
Shanelle Young, who has been doing hair for 16 years, opened Forever Young Salon a year ago on March 18 in the former home of The Dapper House and made the move with Searfoss.
A restaurant in the hands of Searfoss' parents, Kevin and Annette Searfoss, will round out what's now known as Station 101
They don't have any experience running a restaurant, but between them have more than 60 years of experience in the restaurant business — her as a server and him as a bartender and server. They often did those jobs part-time as they traveled around during his 20 years in the military.
A chef consultant is helping as they play around with menu items and hold tastings for family and friends.
The southern-infused menu is likely to include jambalaya, shrimp and grits, spicy burgers and spicy chicken, Kevin Searfoss said.
"We hope it will be a nice place to come with family," he said, adding they hope to be dog-friendly.
What's on tap
The brewers are getting ready to amp up their game as they learn about commercial production, going from 5-gallon batches to 155-gallon ones. They plan to produce 250 to 500 barrels of beer a year.
The selection will include IPAs, New England IPAs, sours, pilsners, wheat beers and blonds.
Guests taps for local breweries, as well as ciders, also will be offered.
Local residents can get a taste of what's in store in the coming months. Hidden Key Brewing Co. will be at the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce's Craft Beer and Wine Festival on Saturday, April 23, other area brewfests and Sidewalk Days in Greencastle on Friday and Saturday, July 8 and 9.
When the brewery opens depends on when the building is finished, but they are hoping for June or July.
"It's critical to be open by Old Home Week," added Rick Houck, referring to Greencastle's triennial celebration that kicks off Saturday, Aug. 6.
Shawn Hardy is a reporter with Gannett's Franklin County newspapers in south-central Pennsylvania — the Echo Pilot in Greencastle, The Record Herald in Waynesboro and the Public Opinion in Chambersburg. She has more than 35 years of journalism experience. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org