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RACINE — Gastropub (gas/tro/pub) n. a pub, bar, or tavern that offers meals of high quality.

Racine now has its first.

Butcher & Barrel Gastropub opens at 5 p.m. Friday in a completely remodeled space at 300 Sixth St. That location formerly housed Sip and, before that, Taos Chili.

The man behind Butcher & Barrel is Rick Onyon, a software inventor and founder of three companies as well as his first gastropub in San Jose, Calif.

Onyon, 53, has Racine roots, having lived here at various times as a child, and his wife, Kristina Onyon, is from Racine.

His father worked in technology, and young Onyon was also drawn to it. His father helped him get entry-level jobs, “And I just kind of flourished,” said Onyon who is essentially self-taught.

He eventually set out to build his own companies.

“I’ve done three technology companies now and probably have a few more left in me,” Onyon said. He sold the first two of those to larger companies.

And Onyon is now at the tail end of that cycle with a company called PosIQ, which provides customer relationship management for restaurants, restaurant chains, bars and coffee shops. The software is currently being used by more than 1,000 other restaurants, he said.

Onyon explained that he invented the software that became PosIQ out of necessity. Separate from his technology dealings, he had bought a bar in San Jose, Calif., planning for a friend who was a bar manager to run it for him.

It was a business Onyon didn’t know at that time, and the bar lost a lot of money initially, he continued. So, Onyon ultimately started building technology that would help it run better, and that became the genesis of the PosIQ company.

“It worked; it worked very well, so now it’s a very successful restaurant” called Firehouse No. 1 Gastropub that’s going on 15 years in business, Onyon said.

The magnet that drew Onyon back to Racine — although he now splits his time between here and San Jose — is that he and his wife often visit their 5-year-old son’s grandparents here.

Onyon said, “And we saw a building, and we said, ‘Well, maybe we should open a restaurant here.’”

Defining ‘gastropub’

^pOnyon closed on the purchase of the corner building in February. He had it gutted, installed an all-new kitchen and replaced the old facade.

He said it’s been difficult to convey to others what a gastropub is. “Almost universally, nobody has any clue what that is,” Onyon said. “And even when I try to explain it, they still look at me blankly.”

He explained the concept this way: “Our goal is to offer a fine-dining experience in a casual setting.”

“Gastro” comes from “gastronomy,” and Onyon said, “It’s about the food first.”

^pThe Barrel in the name comes from the white oak that both adorns the building’s exterior and the face of the bar: That’s the same oak used traditionally for aging wine and for aging whiskey and bourbon, Onyon explained.

^pAfter deciding to open a restaurant here, Onyon found and hired Racine native Tony Moore as his general manager. Moore had held that same post at the HobNob Restaurant, 277 S. Sheridan Road, one of Onyon’s favorite restaurants.

The food

^pOnyon said 95 percent of Butcher & Barrel’s menu is straight from his other gastropub. The lunch menu includes, as a few examples:

  • Crispy pork belly wraps, an appetizer with butter lettuce, jalapeno carrot slaw, watermelon radish and sweet chili glaze, for $13.
  • B&B cheeseburger with one-half pound of hand-formed 100 percent ground chuck on a toasted bun with special sauce and white cheddar, served with French fries, for $11.
  • Herb-marinated grilled chicken with roasted vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, white quinoa, sweet potato puree and parsley vinaigrette, for $15.
  • Marinated red and golden beets with goat cheese, orange segments and orange vinaigrette, for $12.

^pExamples from the dinner menu:

  • Angry Prawns, a smaller plate served with chilis, shallots, garlic, white wine and parsley served over “exceptionally creamy” polenta, for $14.
  • Grilled bone-in pork chop, a 14-ounce cut served with “exceptionally creamy” polenta, broccolini and bacon apricot glaze, for $20.
  • The Urban Cowboy, a 16-ounce rib-eye steak topped with chipotle-bourbon butter and served with mashed potatoes and garlic green beans, for $30.
  • Napa cabbage salad with carrots, cashews, bean sprouts, fried wonton chips, cucumber and sesame ginger vinaigrette, for $14.

^pStarting with dinner Friday, Butcher & Barrel Gastropub will serve food from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. Monday-Friday with a small transitional menu in between, and 5-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information call 262-383-2000 or visit Onyon said the menu should be added to the website by sometime next week.

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Michael "Mick" Burke covers business and the Village of Sturtevant. He is the proud father of two daughters and owner of a fantastic, although rug-chewing, German shepherd dog.

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