From a hidden bathroom on the steampunk-themed second floor to a strolling magician, Chad Kimmel hopes to bring something different to Carlisle when Grand Illusion Hard Cider opens its urban cidery at 26 W. High St. in Carlisle later this month.

A grand opening and ribbon cutting for the business will be held at 4 p.m. Feb. 23. Kimmel and his wife, Andrea, own the business.

Elements of the 1840s-era building, including the exposed brick and rafters, have been retained, but walls have been torn down and support beams added as a crew from Creative Concepts worked to bring Kimmel’s vision to life.

“We’ve really changed things up a bit,” he said.

The slate-topped bar sits roughly where a conference room table was during the structure’s days as a law office. The bar has two tap towers for a total of 24 taps and will feature 15 ciders as well as five craft beers and six wines, all from Pennsylvania and all on draft along with four craft sodas.

“We won’t start with any cider of our own on draft, in terms of day one. But by the middle of March we will release our first one and it will be called Blue Illusion,” Kimmel said.


The back story

The story behind the blueberry-lavender cider’s name stands as an example of the details that crop up for business owners. The cider had originally been named Hypnotic Blue in a Facebook contest, but the name was similar to that of a distillery in Kentucky so it was changed.

The name of the cider also hints at the inspiration for the cidery. Kimmel said the decor reflects the grandeur, colors, mystery and allure of Victorian-era magicians. Strategically placed mirrors on the staircase give an infinity effect to add to the magic theme, as does a hidden bathroom on the second floor where a second bar will offer three beers and ciders on tap.

A year ago, Kimmel met Kyle Purnell, a magician who specializes in table magic that is done up close and personal rather than as a performance from a stage. He offered his help, adding a strolling magician to the mix.

Kimmel initially thought about opening a winery after learning about the wine industry in a program at Harrisburg Area Community College. His vision began to shift as he considered his interests and abilities as well as the resources of the region given its proximity to Adams County and its world-class orchards.



Cider makers are trying to keep up with the popularity of cider, which is following a similar trajectory to craft beer. Kimmel said customers are looking for a craft beverage in addition to beer. That’s changing the nature of cideries from a wine bar setting to more of a craft brewery destination.

“We’re trying to do both. We’re trying to create that brewery atmosphere and yet have it as a wine bar where there’s education. That’s something that’s our niche,” Kimmel said.

To that end, the servers at Grand Illusion will be trained and carry certification from the United States Association of Cider Makers. They will know what the cidery is selling, and be able to share the story, Kimmel said.

The grand room on the second floor offers a view of High Street below, and will be available for private parties or other events such as music, magic or even an Edgar Allan Poe reading in October. Kimmel has an event planner on staff who will help create promotions including cooperative efforts among brewers and other establishments in town.


That’s one way Grand Illusion hopes to become part of creating a vibrant downtown.

Kimmel looks at the continuing community investment and development from an academic standpoint. Early investors in an area develop just enough to draw visitors in larger numbers, which creates a tipping point as other investors are prompted to look more closely at the empty storefronts in the area in order to become part of the attraction.

“Hopefully, we’re part of the tipping point,” Kimmel said.

Email Tammie at Follow her on Twitter @TammieGitt.