Skyler Reeves understands that not many restaurants make it to the five-year mark.
However, his gastropub, The Barley Hound in Prescott, is celebrating that anniversary even during a pandemic. He used the COVID-19-forced break to renovate and accommodate social distancing.
“I had the idea in my mind. It was brewing in my mind for the last year,” says Reeves, who also owns Vivili Hospitality Group’s other properties Rosa’s Pizzeria, Taco Don’s and Hawk and Hound.
Reeves turned his back patio, which was previously used as an event space, into a seating area. The shaded, 1,800-square-foot patio boasts a bar in a shipping container and outdoor games like cornhole and ping-pong.
“We wanted to create more of a bar and lounge, casual vibe,” Reeves says.
The shipping container opens on a hinge, with a door that goes up and out, so the staff can open and close that bar as they want. The bar staff is separated from the guests with a mask and plexiglass, and everything is served in disposable cups. They ask that guests dispose of their own trash.
Pandemic restrictions pain Reeves because guest interaction is his favorite part of the business. Although paused, the Barley Hound typically hosts a “run club” on Thursday out of the back patio. Guests can run 1 or 3 miles and return to happy hour pricing.
The Barley Hound is more than the back patio, though. The restaurant is in an old house. Reeves wanted to maintain the vibe, so he redesigned the indoor seating to be cozy with couches, chairs, coffee tables and a television. However, indoor dining is off limits now.
The menu went through a bit of a revamp, too. He stresses he kept a handful of staples on the menu like the duck fat fries ($3/$6), ’Merica burger ($14), duck burger ($14), bread pudding ($8), Scotch eggs ($7) and blistered shishito peppers ($6).
Everything else was, he says, “fair game to change, reinvigorate, eliminate or add.”
But with the help of chef Tony Burris, Reeves’ partner in Hawk and Hound, The Barley Hound is introducing new items like fully loaded cauliflower nachos ($18), portobello mushroom sliders ($12), Aunt Andrea’s flower cake ($8) and duck tacos ($10).
Reeves recommends first-time visitors try the duck burger, which is 25% duck, and the whole grain mustard is “something special.”
When things return to “normal,” the restaurant plans on doing a taco night and a “featured dish” night.
The kitchen underwent a facelift to help things “run smoother behind the scenes.” The Barley Hound’s owners purchased a larger grill, removed a small wall and installed new tiling and shelving. They also painted the exterior craftsmen blue and white.
They basically did “things that are hard to do when you’re open.”
“It’s not the most exciting thing in the world, but it gives the staff better tools to work with,” Reeves says.
Besides all the renovations and being the first gastropub in Prescott, The Barley Hound stands out in other ways.
“Our cocktails really stand out,” Reeves said. He says they use fresh squeezed juices every day for them.
They use only Arizona craft beer—specifically Prescott or Northern Arizona beer—with eight of them on tap. Occasionally, Valley breweries’ beers will be sold.
The Barley Hound features a great music selection. “We take great care to make sure the right music is playing at the right volume,” Reeves says. “It’s “youthful and energetic.”
The Barley Hound, 234 S. Cortez, Prescott, 928.237.4506, thebarleyhound.com.