A rendering of the exterior of The Urban Stillhouse in downtown Somerset, a smart casual dining experience by Horse Soldier. The restaurant will be located in the historic Goldenberg Furniture building on Fountain Square.

Horse Soldier Bourbon hasn't produced the first bottle of its famous product here in Somerset, yet it continues to make its presence known throughout the community.

SPEDA announced Thursday morning that Horse Soldier has purchased the 5,000-foot Goldenberg building on Somerset's Fountain Square and is beginning to transform it into "a smart-casual dining and cocktail restaurant in the space in front of Jarfly Brewing Company that faces the square."

A SPEDA news release said the restaurant will be modeled after The Urban Stillhouse, "the company’s ultimate Horse Soldier experience in the warehouse arts district of St. Petersburg, Florida."

Construction crews are already at work on the building, once home to the iconic Goldenberg Furniture Store.

“I am so excited to see the next level of Horse Soldier’s investment in our community start to take shape,” Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said. “When our conversations first began, the Horse Soldier team quickly embraced our bold vision to revitalize downtown through economic development, art, music, and food.

"As that vision has become a reality, Horse Soldier has become an integral part of our story, and us of theirs," Keck added. "I am grateful for their presence and commitment and I can’t wait for others to experience the culinary excellence this restaurant will bring to Somerset.”

Following Horse Soldier’s distillery groundbreaking last October, the company’s leadership team embraced the downtown restaurant project in addition to performing geotechnical work on the distillery site.

Construction on the Goldenberg building began in March, and Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) President and CEO Chris Girdler said activity will soon begin at the former Waitsboro Hills Golf Course property.

“Investing in downtown has always been a part of Horse Soldier Bourbon’s plan to bring a distillery experience to Somerset-Pulaski County, and I’m excited to see construction begin,” Girdler said. “This is just another example of the shared values between our community and this outstanding company.

"These legendary men and women see the importance of a thriving downtown. So many of us want to see something unique in this beloved building and it is certainly coming," Girdler added. "The Urban Stillhouse concept will be an excellent addition to downtown and will provide a dining experience that is second-to-none in this region.”

The Urban Stillhouse in St. Petersburg — owned by Meredith Koko, daughter of Horse Soldier Bourbon President John Koko — offers "robust brunch, dinner, and drink menus complete with tasting flights and signature drinks," according to a SPEDA news release.

“Somerset almost immediately felt like home to us when we started this journey in 2019,” Meredith Koko said. “When we walked downtown’s streets, we could feel the excitement about this community’s bold transformation and we wanted to be a part of that." 

Horse Soldier will soon begin work on its $200 million distillery on 225 acres overlooking Lake Cumberland. The distillery is expected to bring more than 400 jobs to Pulaski County and also boost the area's tourism industry.

The distillery will pay homage to the Horse Soldiers’ military story. The site will include a village that offers both spirits- and non-spirits-based activities — events, festivals and concerts will fill the family-friendly venue’s schedule while shops, community rooms, a chapel and event center, and health and wellness opportunities will be available to residents, visitors and veterans. Horse Soldier Farms will also include a luxury lodge, cabins and serve as a premier culinary destination, according to SPEDA.

Horse Soldier Bourbon was founded by a band of brothers who retired from the military, traveled the world and discovered a passion for making bourbon. Their story began in the weeks following 9/11, when a small group of U.S. Army Special Forces entered Afghanistan on horseback. Their clandestine mission marked the first time U.S. troops rode to war on horseback since WWII. The hand-selected detachment of 12 Green Berets from the 5th Special Forces Group would later become known as the “Horse Soldiers.” The 2018 action war drama film 12 Strong is based on their story.

"We hope as residents watch changes being made to this building downtown, that it symbolizes the values we share and illustrates the immense pride we have to be here," Meredith Koko said. "We can’t wait to share The Urban Stillhouse experience with you.”

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