Cob & Pen Aims to Elevate Lakeland Nightlife

tapsCob & Pen, a bar specializing in craft beer, wines and “elevated pub food,” opens today in Dixieland’s Tudor House with a modest goal: “We want to help Lakeland become a 24-hour city,” says co-owner Richard Sherfey, a Lakeland native.

The bar won’t actually be open 24 hours a day. It’s more like 15 hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week. But Sherfey and co-owners Jason Ellis and Corey Ripley plan a few features to appeal to an after-hours crowd: a late-night menu that comes out at 10 and a midnight-to-2-p.m. happy hour aimed at service-industry workers.

Cob & Pen inhabits a Lakeland landmark: the Tudor House, moved from Lake Hollingsworth to 1221 S. Florida Ave. with great fanfare in September 2014.

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Interior photos by David Dickey Jr.

Subdued lighting sets the tone in the main hall: the 2,000-square-foot, vaulted-ceiling building that was added this year to the rear of the original 1927 house. Patrons can also use an outdoor, dog-friendly patio and a brightly lit room in the front of the original Tudor House. A nearby room is designed for private meetings.

The 65-foot tower added to the Tudor this year is off-limits to the public because it lacks an elevator.

The 16 beer taps behind the bar will pour an ever-rotating assortment of drafts curated by Conn O’Leary, the establishment’s general manager. Eventually, O’Leary plans to serve 180 packaged beers.

“We’re going to offer some things that push the boundary,” including hard-to-find sours, farmhouse ales and Belgian brews, he said.

Typical drafts will cost $5 to $7, Sheffey said, and packaged beers will start at $4, with some specialty beers costing well into the double digits.

Food prices should be $3 to $5 for appetizers and $7 to $15 for meals, The Ledger reported, prices borne out by sample menus made available this week:

Each of the co-owners has a specialty. Ellis will oversee the kitchen and Ripley will curate wines, as they do at The Branded Butcher, a restaurant they co-own in Athens, Ga. (They’ll be splitting time between Lakeland and Athens.)

Sherfey, who recently moved back to Lakeland from Orlando — where he has been co-owner of the highly regarded Redlight Redlight Beer Parlor — is the craft beer specialist among the owners.

Redlight Redlight was recently authorized to distribute the beers it brews, which means they will become available at Cob & Pen, but it also means that Sherfey is forced to sell his ownership in the Orlando operation because of laws prohibiting co-ownership of beer manufacturers and retailers.

Sherfey, a 38-year-old George Jenkins High School graduate, met Ellis when they were both students at Palm Beach Atlantic University and have worked together on-and-0ff since then.

The restaurant’s staff has had a chance to prepare for going live today through several events seen on social media this week. Sunday they served each other; Monday was lunch for Tudor House construction workers and dinner for friends and family; and Tuesday was lunch for business associates and an evening soft opening geared to people who bought T-shirts via the restaurant website.

And the name? It’s a nod to Lakeland’s beloved swans; a cob is the male swan, and a pen the female.