Past flickering lanterns and an outdoor patio, heavy wooden rafters and a crackling fireplace give Churchill’s British Restaurant & Pub a downright Dickensian feel. From behind the wooden bar, bartenders sling an impressive collection of drinks, including 13 specialty cocktails, nine beers on tap, and 20 kinds of scotch. Complementing the suds and sips are classic British pub offerings such as bangers and mash and shepherd’s pie, alongside American eats, including meatloaf and chicken tenders that have declared their independence from the rest of the bird. Underneath hanging beer steins and a massive Union Jack, guests can lounge on leather sofas or pleasantly worn wooden chairs as soccer matches flicker on TV screens. When there’s not a match on, pub-goers can play darts or pool in the game room, listen to live rock and bagpipe music, or play trivia on Wednesday nights.
On the Gather McKinney website, mother-daughter pair Jennifer Klassen and Crystal Bryant claim to "know no strangers." That's because everyone who steps into Gather McKinney—the pair's event venue—becomes part of the celebration. The space has hosted weddings, receptions, and showers, all with the help of a trained staff that plans as many or as few details as the client needs. They can handle everything from the ceremony to the seating arrangements, or simply find the right flowers to suit a color scheme. Outside of matrimony, Gather McKinney uses almost any excuse to throw a party, including corporate networking meetings, bar mitzvahs, and festivities for traditional and obscure holidays alike.
Though the space's decor can be customized, Gather most often features a mix of rustic and Victorian aesthetics. Inside, an exposed brick wall meets an embossed tin ceiling, which glitters with Swarovski crystal chandeliers. Plants sprout from Roman-style urns or sport Christmas lights. Even the smallest touches demand hands-on attention, such as the twine wrapped around the silverware sets.
The silverware is far more than a decoration, however. Guests make good use of their forks for each meal, when Mexican, Italian, or down-home dinner entrees grace the tables. Gather also serves homemade lunch every Thursday through Saturday, where the sandwich selection includes a pastrami reuben and the Monte Crispo—turkey breast and gouda cheese between jalapeño cornbread, dipped in egg batter and flash-fried. On Sundays, there's a BYOB brunch buffet with a scrambled-egg bar and pecan french-toast casserole.
Coffee Squared's Cuvee-trained baristas steam and beautify specialty drinks with skill as they multitask to craft pastries and sandwiches. Rich coffee ($1.75–$2.25) widens the drooping eyelids of patrons as steam billows up from piping-hot cups of organic Mighty Leaf tea ($2.05–$2.45) plucked from sustainable farms. Iced white mochas ($3.95–$4.25) send energizing chills down spines as masterfully brewed espresso and sweet cocoa tango down throat chutes. Guests can feel free to sink into sumptuous leather club chairs to work remotely or look up their elvish pseudonym on Coffee Squared's free WiFi network while gobbling up sandwiches and pastries ($1.75–$5) from a rotating menu. The list of hunger quenchers showcases such treats as cranberry blondies and kolacky—fruit poised in buttery dough rounds. Red brick peeks out from behind strategically destroyed drywall in the cozy cafe, creating an artistic canvas on which contemporary paintings hang and at which guests can look while daydreaming or free associating about masonry, freemasonry, the Founding Fathers, and mothers that have a tendency to get lost.
Owner Shawn Danapong spends a lot of time in Thai Pan’s kitchen, where he proudly observes his team of chefs doing what they do best: seasoning curries, stirring pots of soup, and baking heaps of shrimp in a clay pot. The resultant plates of steaming Thai fare make their way to a dining area filled with soft music and small plumes of vapor that swirl above pad thai, fried rice, and stir-fried veggies doused in oyster sauce. As diners dip into the generous portions and help themselves to BYOB libations, a small fleet of televisions flickers to life with sporting events.