Opening in late summer or early fall, Public School on Tap (PS 404 for short) will take the chef-driven public house to a new level with a schoolhouse theme. The seventh location nationwide, PS 404 will be located next door to the Optimist at 930 Howell Mill Road and offer dishes like bacon-cheddar tots, buffalo cauliflower, Colorado lamb burger, and shrimp and Grafton cheddar grits, alongside craft beer, wine on tap, and craft cocktails.
“It doesn’t look like a cheesy school theme—it’s about finding that balance without being too kitschy,” says executive chef Phil Kastel, who presides over all PS locations.
He says the company will likely hire a local chef who will have some creative freedom with the menu. The majority of it, however, will be company-wide favorites that may change with the seasons. PS 404 will serve lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, as well as a late-night menu with pizzas, crispy wings, truffle fries, and burgers. On weekdays, there’s also Recess, a three-hour happy hour with half-off appetizers, plus drink specials.
At the bar will be 15 to 20 taps (no commercial beers allowed). Bartenders make their own juices, shrubs, and elixirs for cocktails like the Beetox (vodka, orgeat, and beet juice). Wine will be sourced from smaller wineries. “It’s a fun environment with communal tables, beer pong tables, life-size Jenga, and dart boards,” Kastel says. “It’s high energy. The music is all over the place from ‘80s to disco. It’s very warm and welcoming.”
He describes the space as industrial chic with cement and wood floors, booths, marble, conduit pipes, and “school references without going over the top.” For example, one PS location features an installation of microscopes along its back wall, while another displays globes from around the world.