A Trailside Eatery And Brewery

Taking its name from its location adjacent to the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail and the fact that it’s a craft brewery, River Trail Brewing in Marietta will celebrate its second anniversary in August. 

The peanut butter burger: toppings include jalapeños, cheddar cheese, bacon and peanut butter. It’s accompanied by fries and cole slaw.

he trail attracts people who bike it or walk it; they could be families or people with their dogs,” notes co-owner Chuck Trissler. “We try to have something that appeals to everyone on our menu, and we’re uniquely set up to welcome canines on our patio – it has its own entrance, so people don’t have to enter through the restaurant.”

The Backstory

River Trail isn’t Chuck’s first restaurant project. Until he “retired,” he was part of the industry’s corporate side. Chuck and his business partner and son, Craig, have owned 551 West (the former Kegel’s Restaurant in Lancaster) since 2012. Since Chuck lives in Maytown, he has always been on the lookout for a restaurant to purchase in that area. When a location became available in Marietta, Chuck, Craig and their other partners – Bryan Tribbitt (Chuck’s son-in-law), and Chef Andrew “Drew” James, who is “like family to us,” Chuck says – purchased it. Since then, the enterprise along Front Street has grown to offer in-house dining, take-out, catering, craft brews, space for private events and an expansive patio that is dog-friendly.  

The signature fish tacos are made with mahi mahi. The crispy “wrapper” makes for a tasty treat.

For the Love of Dogs

After walking the trail, a pooch is bound to be thirsty and hungry. The dog-loving restaurateurs are aware of that and developed a “K9 Meats & Treats” menu of healthy items such as the Mya Belle entrée (steak scraps in whole-grain rice with carrots and peas) and treats such as puppy ice cream. River Trail also hosts a canine Yappy Hour from 2 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, during which canine food is half-price. Proceeds from the sales of canine menu items are donated to the Lancaster Center for Animal Life-Saving (formerly the Humane League of Lancaster County and now part of Humane Pennsylvania). “My late wife, Carol, loved dogs and the K9 menu honors her,” Chuck says, adding that there’s a code of conduct for dogs to ensure that both pet owners and other guests have an enjoyable dining experience. In support of Humane Pennsylvania, River Trail Brewing will be a stop on the mini Pints for Pups tour on August 24 (4-8 p.m.). 

River Trail Brewing’s patio is pet-friendly and even offers a K9 menu for four-legged visitors.

River Trail Brewing also hosts and participates in community events such as Marietta’s Cherry Blossom Festival, which was held April 15 and benefitted a project to re-landscape the town square.

The Space 

River Trail Brewing features seasonal outdoor dining on the patio, which seats about 120. The covered, outdoor live-edge bar has seating around it. The patio is furnished with tables; sun sails provide shade. A fireplace adds ambience, as does a firepit. A pavilion is used for private parties. “We do a lot of live music; it’s mostly Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, but sometimes we have music during the week, especially in the summer,” Chuck says.

The expansive patio features a bar, a fireplace, a firepit and a covered pavilion.

River Trail Brewing also offers indoor dining. However, during the patio season (and depending on the weather), indoor dining is curtailed. “We do open the indoor dining space if it’s raining or if it’s just too hot to be on the patio,” Chuck notes. The first floor features windows that face Front Street; high-tops are positioned in front of these expansive windows, while traditional tables define the rest of the space. The polished wood bar has a stone front and is surrounded by metal barstools. Large-screen TVs are behind the bar. The first floor, including the bar, seats about 40.

The window-filled second floor is used for dining and private events. A second-floor balcony is also available for outdoor dining.

A second-floor dining area features a mix of high-tops and tables. A repurposed church pew creates a banquette for seating. Tall windows and two sets of French doors, which lead to a dining porch, fill the room with light. Including the porch, the second floor seats about 35. Chuck says this second-floor dining area is used for dining space as needed, but also doubles as a space for private parties. 

The (Human) Menu

River Trail Brewing’s menu features a variety of what Chuck calls “pub food with a twist,” as it focuses on seafood and high-quality comfort food. Mahi mahi fish tacos are a signature item. While they’re available throughout the week, on Tuesdays the fish-taco entrée is the special of the day. Other favorites include wings in a variety of flavors (served with choice of bleu cheese or ranch and celery) and burgers. 

The burger menu includes a classic burger, as well as some unique offerings such as the peach burger (a burger topped with caramelized peaches and peppered-onion cream sauce) and the signature peanut butter burger (a burger smothered with jalapeños, cheddar cheese, bacon and creamy peanut butter). 

The menu also includes appetizers such as nachos, bacon-wrapped grilled cheese, artichoke & spinach dip and firecracker shrimp. Soups (including creamy crab bisque and chili), salads and sandwiches/wraps are also on the menu. Entrées include items such as crab mac & cheese, jambalaya, salmon and steak. The dessert offering is homemade, flavored cheesecake.  

River Trail Brewing also offers a kid’s menu. A menu for both onsite and offsite catering is available. 

Brews and More 

As its name indicates, River Trail is also a craft brewery, as it boasts a small brewery on the premises. River Trail’s current brewing system enables six one-half barrels to be produced at a time, but Chuck says capacity is being increased slowly. “We bought this location specifically to grow our brand. Sometime in the near future we want to construct a 60-by-30-foot building at the back of the property, which would allow us to expand our brewing capacity,” he explains.

Co-owner Chuck Trissler had always wanted to open a restaurant in the Marietta area. The beer is a pilsner from River Trail Brewing.

In addition to its own craft beer, River Trail Brewing also sells other bottled Pennsylvania craft brews, including Yuengling and Yuengling Flight, a light beer. River Trail also offers Pennsylvania spirits.

River Trail’s craft beers are currently brewed on the restaurant’s second floor. Plans call for expanding production by building a brewery on the property.

River Trail Brewing is located at 40 East Front Street in Marietta. Hours are noon-10 p.m., Monday through Thursday; noon-11 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and noon-9 p.m., Sunday. Online ordering for carry-out is available through a link on the website. A catering menu is available for private events. Call 717-604-1161
or visit rivertrailbrewing.com, Facebook and Instagram.

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