Matt Miller’s plan for the Monarch Brewing Company in Monticello was already pretty grand in scale.

Renovating a church, a former staple of worship in town.

Brewing their own beer for sale.

Marketing and acquiring a following for a unique establishment in the area.

What MBC has turned – within two short months of being opened – into something even the owner didn’t expect when the first stages of planning began and the process got underway in 2016.

MBC is not only a brewery, but an option for diners in downtown Monticello.

"Initially it was just going to be a brewery with the tap room. We were going to have people bring in their own food, maybe get some food trucks out here," Miller said. "But the more we looked around, we wanted to offer an upscale dining option in town. Then kind of marry the brewery with the upscale restaurant, and so far it’s been very well received."

MBC employs around 40 people, Miller said, a large increase from the original number he had envisioned when thinking about opening a brewery: four.

"A lot of part-time people, but I think we’re at 40-plus (employees)," Miller said. "From high school up to folks in their mid-50’s. I hope that we can continue to grow and employee more people.

"We’re kind of in the infancy right now. We’re only making beer right now for the restaurant and the bar here. Some day I’d like to grow this to where we have an off-site brewery that’s producing beer that’s being sold all throughout the state."

Miller’s ideas don’t stop there. Work to complete renovations in the balcony of the church-turned-restaurant is up next with plans for an outdoor beer garden and live music. A Monticello Oktoberfest is a popular idea among Miller and many of his customers, as well as the possibility of becoming involved with the Kirby Derby and providing a post-race beer tent.

Still, those are long-range ideas. Miller is still just surviving the first two months of opening a new restaurant and getting his kitchen legs under him.

"It’s been rewarding on a number of different levels. We’re a young restaurant, and kind of working out the kinks in some areas. But I feel like we’ve made tremendous progress in the next two months," he said. "It’s been a learning experience. Understanding what goes on in the kitchen, and really that every individual here, everyone’s roll is important. I didn’t have a good appreciation of that before we started."

"So far, so good."