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Construction moving fast on Perham pub and restaurant

Alex Belquist and Britt Nelson stand inside the future Brew Pub and Wine Bar, opening this spring. The couple first opened the bar in June 2011 and were running it out of a leased space behind The Station House. At its new location on Main Street, the Brew will offer an expanded menu of tap beers, as well as an original menu of food items.

Perham is buzzing about the new Brew.

Currently under construction on Main Street, the bar/restaurant is expected to open this spring, and already people are talking about it.

Owners Alex Belquist and Britt Nelson said they've gotten a lot of questions from curious customers. Community members - especially people who patronized The Brew Pub and Wine Bar at its previous location behind The Station House - have been wondering how the new building will look once complete, what the menu will consist of, when it'll open, and whether the rumors about a rooftop bar are true.

To that last question, Belquist and Nelson want to clear things up: The couple said they'd like to make the roof a usable space in the future, but it'll be at least a year before that might happen.

Their plan is to take things one step at a time. For now, they're focusing on the construction process, talking to contractors on an almost daily basis.

The work began at the end of August, with the demolition of the building that had been on site, the former In With the Old building. After that, Belquist and Nelson spent weeks working with architects on plans for their new building.

As of last week, the building was a bare-bones wooden structure over a dirt floor, but it was already easy to envision what it might look like in the future.

The restaurant will have two stories, with a bar, seating area and bathrooms on the main level and an upper level loft for private parties. It features a high ceiling and open feel, and the couple said the decor will be "modern industrial" yet "cozy." There will also be an outdoor seating area in back.

Their wine and cocktail menu will be very similar to what the Brew offered before, but Belquist said they will have a lot more beers on tap - "it's easier to give out samples that way and get people to try new things."

The food menu will be completely new. At their former location, food was provided by The Station House. Here, Belquist and Nelson will be running the show. Belquist is schooled in the culinary arts, and Nelson has a decade of experience as a bartender and waitress. The menu will start out small, with basic bar foods alongside some healthy, homemade options, Nelson said, but it will grow with time.

It's all a dream come true for the couple.

"We've always wanted to own a restaurant," said Belquist. "We thought it wouldn't happen for another 10 years or so, but we had a perfect opportunity here."

Leasing the space at their former location allowed the couple to 'test the waters' of owning their own bar, and they found success at it. They also got to know the community of Perham, and realized they wanted to stay here long-term. When the Main Street property went up for sale, they saw an opportunity and went for it.

"We're really excited," said Nelson. "This was our goal. We needed a little more space and wanted to do our own food, and having Main Street access was definitely a bonus."

"It was really the people that convinced us to do it," Belquist added, explaining that the community has been very supportive. "Perham's where we want to be. It's a good town, it's growing. We've met a lot of good people. Friends."

To follow Brew's construction, visit its facebook page or