Pub owner Will Walker calls it "booze," but however you like to phrase it, one of Mills 50's favorite venues is about to get a lot drunker starting (tentatively) on April 1 when Walker and his staff begin pouring liquor at Will's Pub and sister bar Lil Indies. Walker attributes this move to a lot of things, but mainly the idea is to ensure that Will's Pub is an attractive venue choice for any band coming to town. He's sick of losing shows.
Walker is in the midst of finalizing the paperwork and installing the wells this week at Will's Pub, so this is not just a rumor any longer. It's happening. And it's happening sooner than a lot of us expected. But as for managing expectations, here are some things to keep in mind while ordering drinks at Will's Pub:
- No craft cocktails - keep it simple. The bar isn't changing much, and they won't have storage to accommodate the sort of fancy ingredients you're used to seeing at speakeasy-type clubs downtown.
- No candy store vodka. (He does admit that Fireball is in too much demand to ignore it, plus we all know he has a soft spot for whiskeys, even the girlier ones.)
- There will be shots. (God help us.)
For those paying attention this weekend, you may have observed another change for Will's Pub this week: a wider opening between the stage and the pool room. This broader gap means new sightlines to the stage, so more folks can enjoy the live music from different vantage points. (I think this rules just as much as being able to ask Jenn for a vodka tonic on the reg.)
But, there's more. Lil Indies' days are numbered. Walker projects that the bar will shut down in July to complete renovations that will transform the little lodge dive into a much bigger space where you can definitely expect to be served craft cocktails, under the management of craft cocktail sorceress Kaitlin McGavock (Walker's fiance and ma to lil Indie's namesake). And with this big change comes a name change. Lil Indies will re-open as Daughters & Co.
The new bar will have its own patio that wraps around the back of the bar, with its own entrance that will allow more light to filter into what Walker describes as a more feminine space that has an English garden theme. To create a cement bar top, he's hired a specialist from Tampa whose work he really admires. The office space that backs up to the Will's Pub front patio will be incorporated into the main bar by knocking down a couple walls and adjusting the A/C unit by bringing it up into the ceiling. And above that? A rooftop herb garden that will serve as ingredients for the cocktails in both bars. Here's my super-professional sketch of what this will look like:
Here's what to expect when you order a drink from Daughters & Co:
- Craft cocktails, all the craft cocktails, plus they're installing burners at Daughters & Co for McGavock's special bitters she already markets under the same name
- A women's scotch club will meet regularly to drink fine scotches and learn more about this drink that society typically deems a man's beverage
- Craft BEER, just because they're bringing in cocktails does not mean they are ditching the delicious beer that Walker has always kept on draft
“What we’ve noticed all over the country, going out to these cocktail clubs, firstly, they don’t have beer. None of them have good beer, it drives me fucking crazy," Walker says. "They’ll have these great cocktail menus, their wine’s good, and then you go to beer, and it’s just terrible. And it’s all of them, they all treat beer like shit. So we’re gonna try and stick true to what we’ve done in both places, and keep interesting things on draft.”
As for what will become of Indies, all those booths and wood paneling will be relocated to the front room of Will's Pub, meaning in some cases, folks will be able to grab a booth to watch live music there. Unfortunately for those who enjoy playing pool during Will's happy hour, there is a downside: The pool tables will be removed and gone for good. And the music nights many of us have come to love at Lil Indies? These will be on hold while the bar is closed, and then once the space is settled, the question of live music or DJ nights at Daughters & Co will be re-raised and addressed.
I know it's premature, but RIP, Lil Indies. I'm excited about Daughters & Co and for the continued evolution of Mills 50 culture, but I really, really loved that little bar.