THRIVING SMALL BUSINESSES IN WYOMING: Gastropub Brings Change of Pace and Fancy Flavors to Sheridan

Just off Main Street, but miles from the ordinary

A packed house at The Warehouse Gastropub and Sports Lounge in Sheridan, which offers its customers everything from elevated takes on comfort food to shuffleboard, bocce ball and a professional golf simulator. (Courtesy photo from Gina Johansson)

By Bob Wooley

Special to the Wyoming Truth

Sheridan has many things: Magnificent views of the Bighorns, a junior college, nice parks, bike trails, a hospital and iconic stores, bars and hotels. You can even find photos of the late Queen Elizabeth II, strolling down Main Street to peruse some fine Western goods.

But until recently, Sheridan didn’t have anything quite like The Warehouse Gastropub and Sports Lounge

In Sheridan, The Warehouse is one of a kind. And that’s how owners Gina and Christer Johansson like it.

“We wanted to bring something fresh and different to Sheridan,” Gina said. “As locals who live here year-round, we wanted to give locals and visitors something they couldn’t find anywhere else.”

Added Christer: “Our focus was to create a venue that was more than just a restaurant or a bar.”

So The Warehouse has something for everyone. Customers can watch a game on one of several large-screen TVs around the main dining area. Or they can shoot pool, play shuffleboard, try their hand at bocce ball or even improve their handicap on a professional golf simulator.

Pictured above are Christer and Gina Johansson, proprietors of The Warehouse Gastropub and Sports Lounge in Sheridan. Christer said they wanted to “create a venue that was more than just a restaurant or a bar.” (Courtesy photo from Gina Johansson)

The brunch, lunch and dinner menus offer elevated takes on comfort foods. For those who like to mix things up a bit, there’s beef tartare, tuna poke salad, pan seared grouper and more. The Warehouse also puts on a Supper Club event, featuring a dinner-theater type of show.

A happy accident

Neither Christer nor Gina has experience in the restaurant business; their love of great food and wine motivated them to become restauranteurs.

“It all came to be by mistake, really,” said Christer, now in his 50s, who moved from Sweden to California at age 23.“We weren’t planning it.”

With a background in computer software, Christer is the founder and CEO of Protelo, a company that helps businesses become more efficient. In 2006, the couple, who had vacationed in Wyoming with their children, bought a house in the Sheridan area and lived there part time until they made it their permanent home in 2013.

In June 2020, the Johanssons bought the historic Cady building on Main Street. At first, they planned to use some of it for an expansion of Protelo, while continuing to house existing tenants who rented office space there. But the changing dynamics of work during the COVID-19 pandemic and their employees’ preference to work from home caused them to rethink their plans.

The Warehouse Benedict is a popular brunch item at The Warehouse Gastropub and Sports Lounge in Sheridan. (Courtesy photo from Gina Johansson)

At the same time, the roughly 7,000-square-foot warehouse space that would become The Warehouse Gastropub was listed for sale.

“I decided to buy that building because I thought we would probably need some warehouse space for all of the work we would be doing on our project at the Cady,” Christer said. “So I told Gina I bought the warehouse building and she should come in and look at it. And when she did, she thought it could be a fun little dance venue or something focused on entertainment.”

That conversation started the couple dreaming about the possibilities. If there was entertainment, they’d need a bar. And if there was a bar, they’d need to serve food. And the next thing you know, The Warehouse Gastropub concept was born.

After over a year of planning and completing extensive remodeling, the Johanssons have created a unique space with a clean, modern industrial appearance that plays well with the architecture of the building. A covered patio offers a place to dine outdoors.

If you build it…

The Warehouse currently has 45 employees; Gina and Christer are active in the operations side of the business. So far, Christer said one of the biggest challenges they’ve faced is finding, training and retaining staff.

Customers enjoy drinks on the covered patio at The Warehouse Gastropub and Sports Lounge.  (Courtesy photo from Gina Johansson)

Full disclosure: I ate at The Warehouse on a trip through Sheridan. It’s what inspired me to write about it as a small business. I’d never been there before and didn’t know anything about it or the proprietors. It simply looked fresh, clean and inviting. For brunch, I ordered steak and eggs with crispy fingerling potatoes, the cornflake coated French toast with strawberry compote and bananas, an order of biscuits and gravy, juice and coffee.

The steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare. The biscuits were light, and the gravy flavorful. But the dish I can’t stop wishing I could eat again virtually every morning is the French toast. Subtly sweet and crunchy, with just the right amount of pillowy-soft goodness on the inside, it’s a game-changer. The mascarpone whipped cream was velvety. Add in the slight tartness of the strawberries and fresh, firm banana slices, and it made for the perfect bite.

It was the kind of brunch you might expect to find in Seattle or Denver — maybe even Bozeman or Whitefish. But it’s literally around the block from Main Street.

And for Sheridan residents (or visitors passing through), there’s now a place where they can satisfy their craving for different flavor profiles or take a chance to play the back nine at Pebble Beach (without leaving town) while sipping a pineapple Serrano margarita and munching on a tuna taco with ahi, ponzu, avocado, sesame, spicy aioli and crispy wonton shells.

It was all part of the Johanssons’ plan.

“We wanted to create an opportunity for people in Sheridan to have a chance to leave town for a while without leaving Sheridan,” Christer said. “You don’t have to get on a flight to go to New York or San Francisco or Las Vegas. You just have to walk into The Warehouse, and you’ve left home for a few hours.”  

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