Call it the boomerang effect.
Having worked with the owners of New Albanian Brewing Company off and on since 1989, Steve Powell will experience a homecoming of sorts when he moves his business, Taco Steve, into Bank Street Brewhouse in New Albany.
Powell has been operating for the last two years just down the street from the brewery at Destinations Booksellers. A return to work with Amy Baylor and Kate Lewison wasn’t something he planned, but he isn’t surprised, given he had worked at the former Sportstime Pizza and Rich O’s Public House in various capacities at least four different times.
“It’s a little surreal,” Powell told Insider, “but almost expected. I’ve had eyes on this place for a while, but it was never an option.”
Stacie Bale, who formerly operated Earth Friends Café, had run the kitchen until recently, with the downtown New Albany brewery briefly rebranding itself to Bank Street Café and Brewhouse. For the short term, Bank Street will serve an interim menu of burgers and bar bites. Taco Steve is expected to begin serving sometime in early March.
Before Powell takes over, the small kitchen will get an upgrade with new equipment, like an oven for roasting meat, deep fryers and possibly a four-burner gas range.
While the kitchen located in the back of Destinations Booksellers is a good one, Powell said it had its limits in terms of what he could cook due to the lack of an exhaust hood. This meant no frying and only limited cooking of sauces and other dishes.
The menu has long focused on the tacos, along with quesadillas, burritos, tostadas and nachos. The new space will allow him to expand the menu to include new items, such as carnitas and carne asada. Powell also plans to add fish tacos.
“Everybody wants fish tacos,” he said.
As for the reunion between Powell and New Albanian, all involved agree the timing simply was right for them to work together again.
“I’m so effing excited,” Lewison said.
“The response has been incredible,” Baylor added.
While the original location of New Albanian is well-known for its pizza, that was never an option for Bank Street Brewhouse because the kitchen is too small to handle making the pizza, which involves making fresh dough daily, as well as multiple ovens.
Originally, when the business opened in 2009, it served a bistro-style menu. That didn’t last, and various concepts have come and gone since then. Tacos, however, make sense for a laid-back brewery taproom environment.
“We don’t want to be something we’re not,” Baylor said.
Powell said he had talked with Baylor and Lewison, who are sisters, on two previous occasions about teaming Taco Steve with the brewery, but it didn’t pan out.
“This time it stuck,” he said, and with Bale moving out to open a different enterprise, “it seems like all the stars aligned.”
Powell said he will roll out new menu items slowly, and that the popular tacos mexicanos deal of two tacos and a side for $7.50 will continue.
When Taco Steve reopens, he said, it will probably four days a week — Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Eventually, days will be added, along with a planned Sunday brunch.