Fork in the Road: Radius Brewing serves up creativity in Emporia

Published: Feb. 20, 2018 at 10:41 AM CST
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The philosophy at Radius Brewing is simple.

"There's no rules," says Justin "Gus" Bays, executive chef. "That's what I love about food. Recipes are merely guidelines."

The craft brewery and restaurant is the brainchild of Bays and brew-master Jeremy "J.J." Johns.

Chad Swift was brought on later as general manager. He said three heads are better than one.

"It's a buddy story, of two guys who know each other really well," said Swift. "Hey, you make some beer, I make some food, let's see what we can do with it."

After a lengthy fundraising and renovation process to bring the old building at 610 Merchant up to snuff, Radius opened for business in April of 2014.

Since then, it's been a popular stop for local and travelers alike -- including celebrities.

William Shatner stopped at Radius in 2015, while on a cross-country charity motorcycle ride.

Johns says the same thing that brought the "Star Trek" captain to Emporia continues to fill seats every day.

"There's a big boom, and people are after big flavors, good flavors, and also local flavors."

Johns says they keep several Radius beers on tap, and the varieties change depending on the season. Right now, their William Allen Wheat and the IPA are the most popular.

You can even watch your beer being brewed, so to speak. The brewing tanks are the center piece of the restaurant, situated right in the middle of the dining room.

"It's funny, we get it a lot," says Johns, "'So where do you guys brew your beer?' And we just kind of [turn around] and 'oh, right behind you.'"

Bays also keeps the local flavor by employing students from the culinary and hospitality programs at Flint Hills Technical College. At any time, the restaurant has five to six students working there. Bays says it's a great source of talent to pull from in the local area.

"You have a lot of opportunity to do what you want," says FHTC culinary student Jacob Holmes. "The chef's very lenient with things; you can give him ideas and he'll go with it."

Bays says all of that collective culinary brainstorming has led to some pretty spectacular results -- from brand-new dishes, to new takes on classic favorites like mac-n-cheese.

"If I had told my instructors 20 years ago in school that mac-n-cheese would be an attractant to an establishment that I was behind, you know, they'd laugh," says Bays.

From local brews, to local flavors, and even local decor gracing the walls, those ingredients combine to form an establishment Bays, Johns, and Swift -- as well as the Emporia community -- are quite proud of.

"We're just a bunch of people, really getting to enjoy what we do, and it's a lot of fun," says Johns.

Radius Brewing is located at 610 Merchant in Emporia, at the corner of Merchant and 6th Street.

They are open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

You can keep track of their daily specials and Chef's Menu updates by finding them on Facebook: "Radius Brewing."