The People’s History of Warehouse Gourmet Bistro & Brewpub
Keith and Melinda Stambaugh opened the doors of the original “Warehouse Gourmet Catering Company” on October 4th of 2005. Keith attended the York Academy of Arts in York, PA as a fine art major in 1978 and is an accomplished artist. Melinda is a graduate of Cornell University’s Hotel School of Administration. Both were born and raised in the Hanover area. Keith bought the building in 1996 as a home-base for his original Screaming Peacock art studio. Melinda always wanted to own a restaurant. After getting married in 2002, the two decided that The Warehouse was the perfect space to build a restaurant.
Back in 2005, Melinda and Keith started designing and building a small kitchen in the corner of the warehouse where they lived and where Keith had his art studio. “Warehouse Gourmet Catering Company” began with Keith, Melinda and Melinda’s father, Lamar Bortner as a catering business with carry-out and delivery. The 3 cooked, took orders, delivered, marketed, etc. throughout the Hanover Area.
Melinda had planned something like this for years. And although this type of restaurant venture seemed risky in the Hanover area, Keith went along with it. Their food was different from other Hanover restaurants at the time. The brick building was romantic, bohemian and artsy. Melinda designed the menu, made soups and salad dressings from scratch. She taught Keith to bake cheesecakes and Keith taught himself to bake sourdough bread and other pastry items.
(They watched a lot of Food Network!)
Their handmade food and attention to detail was a success. The little business grew slowly, developing a group of loyal customers.
As word got out and interest in the food grew, their customers kept asking, "When are you going to open a sit-down area for us to dine?" They had always planned to open a little bistro and were just waiting for the right time. Unfortunately, some members of The Hanover Borough Council were not as thrilled for a new little restaurant to be built on Pennsylvania Avenue. But, Keith and Melinda knew it was a great idea. And fortunately, their customers agreed. After more than a year and a half of legal gridlock, paperwork and meetings, a final meeting in the Hanover Borough basement brought a standing room only group of Warehouse Gourmet customers, friends, allies and neighbors. That meeting in the Borough basement proved the commitment and enthusiasm of Warehouse supporters. The people spoke, and The Hanover Borough Council finally agreed. “Warehouse Gourmet Bistro & Catering Company” became the new name and opened December 2010.
The business kept growing. Customers said, “We need more space!” Keith had the brilliant idea to build a brewery to brew his own craft beer. Keith’s remaining art studio was consumed by a new brewery and brew pub for more customers. Hanover never had a brewery or an authentic brewpub. It was back to the Borough basement for more deliberation... Fortunately, with cheering customers by their side, the Borough voted to allow them to open Hanover’s first brewpub! And Hanover had its first brewery! A few years later this decision has helped pave the way for other brewpubs to open in the local area, too. On Black Friday of November 2012, the Upstairs Pub opened.
“Warehouse Gourmet Bistro & Brewpub” became the new name. Catering has still been a vital part of the restaurant. On a weekly basis, the kitchen staff sends luncheons to local doctor’s offices, luncheons to schools, baby showers on weekends, birthday parties, weddings; you name it.
Over the past eleven years, we have changed and grown well beyond our initial expectations of a quaint little bistro along the railroad tracks. Our food has evolved and our business has grown. Our staff has grown, too, from Keith and Melinda and Melinda’s Dad to 20 full and part-time employees. Their creativity and hard work keeps the menu diverse and our customers happy.