Monks reopens with new owner’s focus on building craft beer culture

Aug. 5, 2020

The neon beer signs were back on Tuesday in the windows of Monks House of Ale Repute – the code for customers that it had reopened.

The craft beer bar on East Eighth Street has a new owner – Justin Henrichsen of Rapid City’s Independent Ale House – and a slightly different name: Monks Ale House. Henrichsen bought the bar from founder Jerry Hauck in mid-May while it was temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and he has spent the past couple of months remodeling the space.

“I’m the first guy that says you gotta crack an egg to make a good omelet,” said Henrichsen, who did much of the work himself, using Van Laar Construction to connect him with help when needed. His wife, Jeane, was “in charge of all the colors and all of that end of stuff.”

He removed walls, opening up the space between the bar and the backroom, where booths have been added to the seating options. The bathrooms – often the worst feature in a bar – were gutted and remodeled. There’s a fresh coat of paint, but the old wood flooring and some of the exposed brick walls remain. The overall ambiance hasn’t changed.

The number of tap lines for craft beer has grown from 39 to 50, and drinkers will continue to find a variety of options, including beers brewed locally and in the region. Henrichsen will draw on the relationships he has built with brewers over the past decade to bring in special offerings.

“With 50 beers on tap, I always jokingly say that if you can’t find the beer you like here, you don’t like beer. … So a lot of our part behind the whole thing is education, is getting people to step out of their comfort zone. It’s the reason we’ll give you a sample.”

Hours will be flexible, Henrichsen said, but Monks will open at 3 p.m. on weekdays and noon on the weekend. “We’ll always be open until 11 or midnight, later if people are still here drinking.” Dogs will be welcome on the patios.

Henrichsen said he rehired anyone from the previous staff who wanted to stay on and has added to the team, which he wants to build into a group of friends and then into family. “And then everybody’s on the same page. You organically get to a very good staff.”

Customer service is key, he said. “So for me, my simple philosophy is I take care of my staff, my staff takes care of my customers, my customers take care of my business. It starts with your staff.”

After spending a couple of weeks to get the bar running smoothly, Henrichsen said he’ll start on the next piece of the renovation, which is reopening the kitchen. Independent Ale House is known for its pizza, and that will be part of the offerings at Monks. Until the kitchen opens, customers can bring in food or have it delivered.

The sale also included Gandy Dancer Brew Works, the on-site brewery, but Henrichsen doesn’t have any plans to start making beer.

Henrichsen said he’s looking forward to being part of the Sioux Falls market and leading the original craft beer bar in the state.

“I look at coming over here and building the craft beer culture and pushing that whole thing forward of we are South Dakota, we’re not a flyover craft beer state. We’re making kick-ass sh** here, and to be able to focus on that is going to be great.”

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Monks reopens with new owner’s focus on building craft beer culture

The craft beer is flowing again at Monks.

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