The Black Sheep Ale House, a Mineola craft beer bar, might soon be expanding into new territory. Vincent Minutella, the owner of the Black Sheep, which currently sells craft beer and cocktails, says it’s time to expand his bar with a new dining area and beer garden—though some residents are less than thrilled about the prospect.
“When I first bought O’Donnell’s back in 2010, I was under the impression that I could pop a kitchen in where there used to be one—which is now our booth area. Well not exactly,” explained Minutella. “O’Donnell’s had pulled out their kitchen six months before we bought it.”
Because a new kitchen would have to be code compliant to modern times and would take up most of the bar area, Minutella put the idea of having a kitchen on the back burner. But now due to the Black Sheep’s success, Minutella was able to purchase the building and the vacant storefront next door.
“We’d like to push through and put a kitchen and dining area on the other side which is basically a mirror image of the Black Sheep now,” said Minutella. “We’d be doubling the size of the Black Sheep.”
The food that the Black Sheep would potentially be serving would complement the craft beer that they sell with food from European countries like Belgium and Germany—countries that are known for their beer. Minutella plans on serving sausages, mussel pots, burgers and American barbecue.
“We’re known for beer so whatever we think will enhance the enjoyment of craft beer that’s what we’re going to work on foodwise,” said Minutella.
Also part of the Black Sheep’s property is a newly acquired two-family house that is located next to the bar. Minutella hopes to raze the house and put a 1,500 square foot beer garden in that area.
Last December when Minutella went before the village board for a public hearing on his proposed expansion, concerned residents who live near the Black Sheep aired their grievances, saying that they didn’t want a beer garden so close to their homes. Some fear that the beer garden will be too noisy and that it will attract the wrong type of crowd.
“We actually attract nice clientele,” said Minutella. “Craft beer is its own thing and the people who enjoy craft beer, they’re very diverse. The common denominator is their love for finely crafted beers. That’s who we’re catering to. It’s not a frat house. I can imagine what they’re fearing which is DJs and rowdiness all night long with music. That’s not what we do.”
The proposed beer garden would be surrounded by four walls of noise abatement. To further abate any noise problems, Minutella will also put a pergola and a row of arbor vitae in the back area of the garden where residents reside.
“The real issue is trying to abate that sound in the rear part of the beer garden which I feel we’ve done with the arbor vitae and the various fences that go between there and the closest neighbor,” explained Minutella. “I really feel like if the sound is a concern, we’ve addressed it.”
Minutella says that the beer garden is not going to be an all-night party since they don’t plan on having a band every night. The only exception of having a band on the premises would be for a private party or special event that the Black Sheep is hosting.
“In that case, we would kill the music at a reasonable hour,” said Minutella. “It wouldn’t go on all night. Say 11 p.m. on the weekends, we’ll turn it off. We do plan to have some background music out there but you shouldn’t be able to hear it from the sidewalk outside the bar.”
Although the hours aren’t finalized yet, Minutella plans to close the beer garden at 10 p.m. on the weekdays and midnight on the weekends.
Next month when Minutella once again goes before the village board, Minutella will show the board the changes he has made to ease everyone’s concerns. Minutella will be bringing his landscape designer, architect, contractor and bar manager to the public hearing so they can address concerns from the board and public as well.
“If we have to make further changes, we will,” said Minutella. “We believe that we’re an asset to the community.”
Minutella says he wants to have a vibrant downtown area in Mineola and with new residential buildings being built in the area, he wants people to have a place to go.
“There’s a need to serve the Mineola residents,” explained Minutella. “It’s also a destination for people outside of the town to spend their money in downtown Mineola. I think it’s good for everybody. I’ve operated this bar very responsibly from the minute I came in there and I’m going to continue to do so.”