Alley on Main hopes to be memory lane

Cliff Pelfrey and chef Brandon Estep are hoping to bring the past to life and give generations young and old a cool place to come together and take in the atmosphere of Paintsville.

If walls could talk, the historic brick facades bookending the alleyway on Main Street that entrepreneur Cliff Pelfrey is turning into a restaurant would have a long list of stories to tell.

The storefronts that used to line the alleyway included an old barbershop, a drug store, and the main attraction, the Arcade Theater.

Vintage vaulted ceilings cover every space, and the walls of brick will provide space for movie posters, murals, and once again for the first time in many years, a projector screen.

The awning is already standing out front, beginning the branding efforts for the “Alley on Main” while the interior is still gutted and far from ready, which is understandable given the anticipated opening is not until August.

At this point, Pelfrey is more concerned with finishing the main construction work after peeling back the layers and updating the area’s heating, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing infrastructure. At the same time, he’s making plans for the aesthetics, the layout, the technology and the menu of the restaurant itself, in partnership with chef Brandon Estep.

The Alley will appeal to young patrons for its nightlife, Pelfrey hopes, and older Paintsville residents for its time warp effect. He and Estep want to feature a menu to meet that broad appeal while being unique.

Estep, of Ashland and formerly the force behind Brick and Brew Pizza in Huntington, said the restaurant will be attractive to all comers.

“We’ll offer some amenities that you have in some other, bigger cities,” Estep said. “Things that I haven’t seen here. We want to try to offer some things that give some of the younger people here a reason to not have to drive elsewhere.”

Estep said little touches, like having USB outlets available for patrons at the bar, will demonstrate that the creative forces behind the Alley are doing things right.

Those who want a taste of the kind of food the Alley will be offering can find them set up at the next Market 606 event in Paintsville, June 29. What they’ll have on offer there will be but a sampling of what Estep calls a menu filled with “American fare, a little upscale-casual.”

“I think you’ll have some things that are familiar, but maybe with a new spin,” he said.

That full menu will include what Estep describes as an egg roll done “Appalachian style,” with bacon and braised greens in place of more traditional sprouts and pork, or a hummus made from black-eyed peas.

“We’re going to have the best cheese fries around,” Estep said.

Pelfrey said he anticipates 20 jobs will be available at the restaurant, which will more or less match the number employed at his other enterprise, which includes Venture Home Again, also in Paintsville. The restaurant will be open for both lunch patrons and the dinner crowd, and will stay open relatively late.

Of his part in bringing Paintsville’s Main Street back to life, Pelfrey said the market is present if people would just invest. Prime real estate, Pelfrey said, could also be obtained relatively affordably on Main Street.

“I think if they would just keep it up, keep doing these street fairs… I think people had forgotten about coming downtown,” Pelfrey said.

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