Maybe the biggest question looming over a fledgling downtown venue called The Joinery has been answered: Craft beer will continue to flow onsite. And the list of vendors who will fill the artisan food hall is nearly complete.

There will be a rotating schedule of brewers in a building overlooking picturesque Lake Mirror. It was formerly a cleaners and a brewhouse. And it is dominated by nine huge brewing tanks left behind by Lakeland Brewing Company.

“We’re calling this a community brewery with rotating brewers,” says Jon Bucklew, who along with his wife, Sarah owns the business.

The Joinery will operate in the massive 12,000 square-foot building. It will feature seven food vendors and one retail vendor: Bloom Shakalaka, a flower shop being developed by Laura Helm of Ashton Events and the Haus 820 events venue.

The most recently added vendor is Ferdian Jap, who operates several food business in Tampa, including  Zukku Sushi in the Armature Works food hall. Bucklew says Ferdian’s portion of The Joinery will be called Ato and serve poke bowls, the increasingly popular dishes that feature combinations of rice, steamed vegetables and fish or chicken. Jap was unavailable for comment.

Names of other vendors have been dropped recently:

  • Ava, a rustic Italian restaurant in Tampa’s South Howard district with a smaller satellite at Armature Works, will open a second satellite focused on wood-fired pizza at The Joinery, The Ledger and The Lakelander just reported.
  • Sabu Ramen, created by Ryan Neal, a Lakeland chef who has worked with Nineteen 61 and Black & Brew, will be the first Lakeland restaurant devoted to the Japanese noodle delicacy. Neal described his ramen journey in a recent episode of the Jae Choe Show podcast.
  • Gallito Taqueria, which opened about a year ago at Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf, will be opening a second location at The Joinery, LALtoday reported today. It is a creation of Chef Ferrell Alvarez, known for The Rooster and Till in Seminole Heights.
  • King State, a Tampa Heights coffee roaster and beer brewer, will be the first of The Joinery’s rotating brewers, The Ledger reported, and will serve breakfast items and small plates in its own stall at The Joinery.
  • The Hyppo, St. Augustine-based purveyors of gourmet ice pops available locally at Black & Brew Lake Morton, will have its first Lakeland shop. The closest ones currently are in Tampa’s Ybor City and Hyde Park. Hyppo reportedly will also serve a sister product, May Day Ice Cream.

Bucklew said he is still looking for one last vendor.

The last serious question:  When will The Joinery open its doors? And the answer is definitely uncertain.

“Three Months ago,” says Bucklew. “Well, we’re hoping for November, maybe December.”

Maybe not, says Madison Watson, newly named director of operations at The Joinery. “I think it will be more like January,” she says.

The Bucklews own Seventeen20, which manufactures hand-crafted furniture, and have sunk well over $1 million into the Joinery. Establishments serving food are often risky ventures.

The gamble is a huge one. The Joinery will seat 350, including 150 outside.

But Jon Bucklew, who spends 15 hour days supervising construction, exudes confidence. If he’s worried, he clearly shows no signs of it.

“What’s the worst thing that could happen?” he asks. “If this fails, I could deliver pizzas or something like that. Been there before. It’s not so bad.”

Bucklew feels the time is right in Lakeland for the concept of an affordable upscale craft food hall. He says that while the idea is unique to Lakeland it isn’t new to other areas.

“We think it will be a home run.” 

Jon and Sarah Bucklew announce the new vendors via video:

Rick Rousos can be reached at 863-797-5698

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