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Stone Brewing Co. to Open Brewery and Bistro in Richmond, Virginia

Stone Brewing Co. to Open Brewery and Bistro in Richmond, Virginia

The brewery is scheduled to open by early 2016, while the bistro should be up and running by 2018.

Stone Brewing Co. will open a brewing facility in Richmond, Virginia’s Greater Fulton community by early next year, followed by a destination restaurant on the property — an outpost of their Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens — within two years of opening the brewery. President and co-founder Steve Wagner explained in a press release that “the search for our location east of the Mississippi River was no easy endeavor” for the San Diego-based company, but that, ultimately, they “decided to begin next-step negotiations with Richmond because of their ability to meet our extensive site requirements … We also feel that Richmond’s vibrant energy and impressive craft beer culture, along with the uniqueness of the property, will allow us to create a truly memorable Stone experience for our fans.”

Stone received the city’s approval to build in December, along with $23 million to fund the first phase of the brewery. However, the Richmond City Council has held off on voting to fund the riverfront restaurant and beer garden on Wharf Street, which is estimated to cost $8 million, due at least in part to the outcry from local business owners. They claim that, by funding the restaurant, the city of Richmond is giving preferential treatment to the company at the expense of local restaurants and bars. Michelle Williams, executive chef and operating partner of the Richmond Restaurant Group, told members of the council at a hearing that she believes Stone “should have to do it on the same merits everybody else in the city has had to work so hard to get.” The council claims that they will receive the $8 million back from Stone via their lease, along with the influx of tourism to the area that the facility will bring. It’s estimated that their San Diego facility attracts approximately 600,000 visitors every year.

Stone will invest $74 million in the facility, which will include a 200,000 square-foot production brewery and distribution center; a 250 barrel brewhouse; administrative o­ffices; retail space; and the destination restaurant. These facilities, which will eventually employ nearly 300 people, will be housed in a renovated two-story, 30,000 square-foot building. The brewing company will produce year-round and special-release beers for on-site consumption and distribution, and the bistro’s menu will showcase locally grown, organic food from the surrounding area.


Stone Brewing Co. to build Virginia facility

Stone Brewing Co., one of the nation's top 10 craft breweries, is tapping Virginia for its East Coast operations.

The Escondido, California-based brewery announced Thursday that it plans to invest to build a $74 million facility in Richmond, creating nearly 290 jobs over five years. The facility southeast of downtown Richmond will include a bistro, gardens and a company store similar to its California facility and its recently announced brewery in Berlin.

"We can't build fast enough (and) we can't wait to serve you guys beer," Stone's Chief Operating Officer Pat Tiernan told a crowd at the Executive Mansion in Richmond.

With a wide variety of beers including Levitation Ale, Arrogant Bastard Ale and its "Enjoy By" IPA series, Stone will join a growing list of more than 80 craft breweries in Virginia that will soon also include fellow California brewery Green Flash Brewing Co., which plans to break ground on a facility in Virginia Beach next week.

The move comes as demand for craft beer continues to bubble domestically and abroad.

Sales of craft beer rose about 17 percent last year, making up about 14 percent of the retail market share in the U.S., according to the Brewers Association.

There are more than 2,700 breweries in the U.S. and an additional 1,700 in the works. And 75 percent of legal-drinking-age Americans living within 10 miles of a local craft brewery, the trade group says.

The 200,000 square-foot production brewery in Richmond is expected to be operational in late 2015 or early 2016. Initially, the brewery is expected to produce about 120,000 barrel annually, but that number could grow to nearly 500,000 barrels annually, according to its request for proposals. Stone also plans to renovate a two-story, 30,000 square-foot building for a restaurant and garden that's expected to open a year or two later.

Virginia was selected among more than 20 states, Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Thursday at a news conference that included a toast with Stone beers. Stone officials received more than 200 proposals and made 40 site visits before settling on Richmond, which ultimately beat out Norfolk and Columbus, Ohio, for the facility.

"The local craft brew community is unbelievable," said president and co-founder Steve Wagner. "It's a beautiful city and the site is spectacular. . Logistically it definitely won out."

Stone also is receiving a $5 million grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund and also will be eligible to receive up to a $250,000 grant from the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, depending on its use of Virginia grown products in its operations.

Last year at its California brewery, Stone produced 213,000 barrels of beer and exceeded $135 million in revenue. The brewery founded in 1996 employs nearly 900 people and distributes in 40 states and seven countries. In July the company also announced plans to renovate a historic gas works building in Berlin that's set to open late next year or early 2016 for distribution throughout Germany and Europe.


City makes pricey promises to land Stone Brewing

Richmond’s beer production will likely skyrocket in 2016, but it will take more than $30 million in city money over the next few years to get Stone Brewing Co.’s product flowing in the East End.

The mayor’s office said yesterday it will issue $23 million in bonds to fund the development of a 200,000-square-foot facility for the California-based brewery. And it will put up another $8 million in bonds for a restaurant and beer garden as part of Stone’s first East Coast operations.

The city also plans to throw in $2 million in grant money that it said will come from new taxes generated by the new facility.

“The project is expected to be transformative for the East End,” Tammy Hawley, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, said in an email. “It will ultimately represent a $74 million investment in the city, with $41 million in machinery and equipment, $1.7 million in personal property, and a minimum of 288 jobs in the first three years.”

The highly coveted facility will be built on a 12-acre plot near Williamsburg Avenue and Nicholson Street near Rocketts Landing. Most of the land is currently owned by the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority. Titan Virginia Ready Mix concrete company owns less than an acre of the property.

Stone’s brewery and store will open first, followed by a beer garden and restaurant.

The Richmond Economic Development Authority will be Stone Brewing Co.’s landlord at its new brewery. The EDA will develop and lease the property to Stone, where brewing is scheduled to begin in January 2016.

The company will have an initial 25-year lease on the property, Hawley said. Stone will pay rent annually, and the amount will be enough to cover the city’s debt service, she said. The lease will also leave Stone in charge of paying real estate taxes, insurance and maintenance costs for the brewery.

The city isn’t alone in opening up its wallet to lure Stone to Richmond. The state is pitching in $5 million from its Governor’s Opportunity Fund for the project and another $250,000 from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund.

“We put all in to get this project,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said at an announcement event at the executive mansion on Thursday.

Stone said it will invest $74 million in the brewery. That number includes land, capital equipment, personal property and real estate improvements, company spokesperson Sabrina LoPiccolo said in an email, but will not include rent Stone will pay over the term of its lease.

The Stone project, nicknamed “Project Gogi” at city hall, was a highly competitive economic development opportunity sought by multiple cities up and down the East Coast. Richmond won out over Norfolk and Columbus, Ohio at the end of a site search that spanned 20 states and took the better part of this year.

Stone expects revenue at the site to exceed $100 million in its fourth year and eventually reach hundreds of millions of dollars annually. The company has said the brewery will create more than 288 new jobs.

Stone will become the largest craft brewery in Virginia the day it opens its doors. It plans to brew more than 120,000 barrels of beer in its first year, a number Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore said will nearly double the production of the state’s 82 breweries currently in operation.

About 10 of those breweries are in the Richmond area. And while some local brewers are happy to have Stone in town, the amount of money the state and city will put up for the project has raised some eyebrows in the brewing community.

Stone Brewing co-founder Steve Wagner speaks at Thursday’s event.

Dave Gott of Legend Brewing Co., a Richmond brewery that started in 1994, was excited about the boost Stone will give the local beer scene.

“Bringing a big-name brewery into the area really solidifies Richmond and the surrounding area as a destination now,” Gott said. “If I worked for the department of tourism, I would be dancing in the streets.”

But Gott said he’d like to see a little more help for the smaller breweries from the groups that are rolling out the red carpet and opening up the checkbook for Stone.

“To bring a major, major competitor into the market – I don’t see anything wrong with it, it’s a lot of jobs – but I think it would be nice for them to reach out to the brewing community in Richmond to see where they can help out,” Gott said. “I can guarantee every brewery here has a million and one things they need to do, and the city can be very instrumental in getting those through.”

Richmond isn’t the first beer town to bring a major player into its hopping microbrewery scene. Asheville, N.C., has brought in big-time western breweries Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., New Belgium Brewing Co. and Oskar Blues in recent years.

And California-based Green Flash Brewing Co. is breaking ground this month on its own East Coast facility in Virginia Beach.

But Norfolk-based Smartmouth Brewing Co. isn’t worried that Green Flash will cut into its business, and spokesperson Chris Neikirk said having the major breweries nearby could lend clout to lobbying efforts for brewery interests at the state level.

Green Flash recently brewed a collaboration beer with Smarthmouth while in Norfolk, and Neikirk said the 2-year-old company picked up some tips during the visit.

“They’ll bring a wealth of information– they’re seven or 10 years ahead of us,” she said. “It’s kind of like having that big brother telling you how to pick up girls.”

Neikirk said she will keep the state incentives for Stone in mind the next time Smartmouth expands its operations. And while she didn’t know what sort of incentive package Norfolk may have put together in its attempt to lure Stone, she said the local breweries would have wanted a piece of the action as well.

“I think had they chosen Norfolk, we would have wanted to see what the city offered them,” she said. “If they gave them discounted water or discounted electric, we would have wanted (the same) for us.”

Stone wants to begin site work on its Richmond brewery next month in hopes of beginning construction in January, company co-founder Steve Wagner said Thursday. That timeline would mean the company would start brewing beer in January 2016.

Wagner said he hopes to open a retail operation at the same time as the brewery and said the plan is to add the restaurant and garden phases by Stone’s third year in Richmond, if not sooner.

In the meantime, City Council will consider a pair of ordinances to issue special use permits that would accommodate the brewery at a Monday meeting. One will allow Stone’s brewery at the site announced Thursday, and the other will pave the way for a similar brewery at the Reynold’s South Plant owned by development company Thalhimer Realty Partners.

Thalhimer Realty Partners Vice President Matt Raggi said the company is no longer pursuing the Stone brewery and will carry on with its original plan to build apartments at the site.

Correction/clarification: Stone previously said that its $74 million investment in the Richmond facility included rent it will pay to the city to lease the planned property. It has since said that figure does not include rent.


A Beer Drinker’s Guide to Richmond, Virginia

In the nineties, Richmond beer geeks could count the number of breweries in town on one hand. Today, it’s one of the country’s hottest beer destinations. “We have thirty-plus breweries, and most of them are brewing world-class beer,” says An Bui. It’s a bold statement, but Bui, a James Beard Award semi-finalist who serves as “Chief Beer Officer” at his family’s restaurant, Mekong, and founded nearby brewpub the Answer , hasn’t just witnessed craft beer’s explosion in Richmond—he helped galvanize it.

“When we decided to open our restaurant, for the first two years it was just Vietnamese cuisine and wine,” says Bui, whose family emigrated from Vietnam in 1986 and opened Mekong in 1995. The popular wines at that time were heavier—merlots, cabernets, and Chardonnays—but Mekong offered sweeter fare, like riesling, that paired best with the menu. “No one in town was drinking those wines,” Bui explains, and business suffered for it. Around that same time, a friend who was into craft beer had a party where he shared bottles from around the world—including a German doppelbock that changed everything. “My jaw hit the floor,” he says. “I was like, wow, I didn’t know beer tasted like this.” He approached his family about replacing their wine list with adventurous brews, a gamble that paid off as Mekong’s draft list grew and the bar became a mainstay for Richmond’s burgeoning craft beer community. Since 2012, Mekong has won Best Beer Bar in America from CraftBeer.com three times, and Bui entered the brewing scene himself in 2014 with the Answer, which quickly won local and national acclaim.

As Mekong’s status has flourished in the beer world, so has Richmond’s. In 2014, West Coast juggernaut Stone Brewing announced it had chosen the city for its East Coast operations, opening a huge brewery and taproom on the banks of the James River, and smaller local beer makers have popped up in clusters around the city, too. “The best part is the proximity of all the breweries—you can walk to a dozen places and try beers,” Bui says, citing Scott’s Addition, a fast-growing neighborhood in a former industrial district, as a major hub. But the community’s closeness goes deeper than its zip code. “The community here, all the breweries in town, feel like family,” says Bui. “And so do the beer drinkers.” Here, Bui lets G&G in on the family secret: which breweries—aside from his own—should get visitors started on a sudsy tour of the city.

“You have to visit the Veil,” says Bui. “They make a great stout, a great IPA, a great sour.” A Scott’s Addition staple since it opened in 2016, the Veil’s extensive draft list—more than a dozen on tap at any given time—is a testament to the versatility of head brewer Matt Tarpey, whose resume boasts stints at Cantillon in Belgium and at Hill Farmstead Brewery in Vermont.

Bui’s Pick: “They make a really good fruit sour,” Bui says. The brewery’s Tastee series, which mixes seasonal fruit puree into a 5.5 percent sour ale with oats and milk sugar, keeps him coming back—specifically, the Blackout Tastee, with blackberry and black currants. “There’s lots of heavy fruit,” he says. “It tastes like a smoothie.”

photo: Amber Parker | The Veil Brewing

Inside the taproom at the Veil.

“You can pretty much take your kids to any brewery in town and feel at home,” says Bui, but vintage arcade games and a formidable food menu make Bingo a particularly worthy destination for beer geeks with family in tow. Bingo’s location—steps away from the Veil and many other beer joints in Scott’s Addition—puts it within stumbling distance from restaurants and several cideries, perfect for the gluten- or hop-averse. Visitors aren’t likely to leave, though, once they scan the brewery’s draft list. “They specialize all kinds of lager.”

Bui’s Pick: Bingo Pivo , a Czech-style pilsner with barley and Saaz hops. “It’s kind of a hoppy lager that they do. It’s really, really good.”


Stone Brewing Co. Taps Richmond, Virginia, as Location for New Brewery

North San Diego’s Stone Brewing Co. has tapped Richmond, Virginia, as the future home for a new brewery and restaurant location, the company announced Thursday.

The Escondido-based company confirmed it has signed a formal letter of intent with the City of Richmond outlining Stone’s interest in building its first-ever East Coast facility in the city’s greater Fulton community.

If approved, Stone plans to invest $74 million to construct a brewery, packaging hall, restaurant, retail store and administrative offices.

The company said the construction of the East Coast facility will occur in phases, with the brewery up and running by late 2015 or early 2016 and the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens portion opening a year or two after that.

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The 200,000-square-foot brewery and distribution facility will likely be built on 14 acres of land and will be equipped with a 250-barrel brewhouse that produces year-round and special-release beers to be bottled, kegged and distributed.

A two-story, 30,000-square-foot building will be transformed into a destination restaurant spanning four acres and boasting landscaped gardens where patrons can enjoy craft beer and bites in a relaxing atmosphere. The restaurant menu will highlight locally-grown, organic food.

The company plans to employ approximately 288 people or more at the Virginia business.

Stone president and co-founder Steve Wagner said narrowing down the location of the East Coast facility was tough, as the company received hundreds of proposals and visited more than 40 sites before making their big decision.

“We decided to begin next-step negotiations with Richmond because of their ability to meet our extensive site requirements, subject to the city’s approval. We also feel that Richmond’s vibrant energy and impressive craft beer culture, along with the uniqueness of the property, will allow us to create a truly memorable Stone experience for our fans,” Wagner said in a press release Thursday.

Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones said the city was thrilled to welcome Stone Brewing Co. to Virginia.

The North County brewing company first announced plans to expand its IPA empire to the East Coast this past March.

In July, the company announced another expansion, this time hopping international borders with plans to open a brewery in Berlin, Germany. With that big move, the company will become the first American craft brewer to independently own and operate a brewery in Europe.

With plans to invest $25 million, Stone will transform a two-acre historic gasworks complex in the Berlin suburb of Marienpark into a brewhouse, World & Bistro Gardens restaurant and retail store by late 2015 or early 2016.

Stone is Southern California’s largest brewery and the nation’s 10th largest craft beer producer. It operates its flagship brewing facility and bistro out of Escondido on Citracado Parkway and a second location in Point Loma’s Liberty Station, which opened in 2013.


Update: Richmond Nabs Stone Brewing, Beer Garden and Restaurant Coming

Following months of speculation, Gov. Terry McAuliffe plans to announce tomorrow afternoon that Stone Brewing Co.’s much anticipated expansion is coming to Richmond’s Fulton Hill neighborhood.

In their bid to bring the company to Virginia, officials offered Stone more than $5 million in state grants late last month, sources familiar with the plans say. The city has agreed to undertake some of the construction costs, the sources say.

Stone is likely to announce an investment of about $75 million in Richmond to build a brewery and beer garden, the sources say. The complex is expected to create about 90 brewery jobs and 200 hospitality jobs.

The announcement is expected to come during a 2 p.m. event at the Executive Mansion. McAuliffe’s public schedule says the governor will make a “major economic development announcement” at that time.

Stone representatives declined to confirm news, first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, that the announcement was poised for tomorrow.

Stone had named Richmond, Norfolk and Columbus, Ohio, as finalists for the project. Stone is based in San Diego and is the 10th-largest craft brewery in the country. The company has said the Richmond brewery will ease the distribution of its product around the eastern United States.


Richmond Food News: Week of May 24-28

The Pit and the Peel may be known for acai bowls and smoothies, but its forthcoming location takes juice bar vibes up a notch. (Photo by Eileen Mellon)

Smooth Operator

With new digs, a fresh food menu and a rooftop bar to boot, The Pit and the Peel plans to roll out its reimagined juice bar in the coming weeks. Moving just a block down Main Street from its previous location, the space will offer libations on evenings and weekends, plus an expanded menu of healthy options including tacos and cauliflower-crust pizza. (Richmond magazine)

All Hail Half-moons

Made with an endless assortment of fillings and eaten in countries across the globe, empanadas are truly a snacker’s best friend. These hand-held bites are making appearances at eateries around the region from Bombay Co. in Rocketts Landing to Chamo’s Arepa House on Hull Street. Empanada escapade, anyone? (Richmond magazine)

Make It Quick

Perch and Instabowl chef-owner Mike Ledesma lets us in on a kitchen secret for whipping up pickled cucumbers in a flash. Whether you want to add to your condiment shelf in the fridge, plan on trading jars with a friend or simply enjoy saying the world “quickle,” we’ve got you covered. (Richmond magazine)

Large Shaker of Salt

Margaritas may be one of the most popular cocktails in the world, but the tale behind their rise to beverage stardom remains a bit unclear. Learn a little and break out that tequila to create fun twists with ideas from the bar crews at Sonora downtown, Charlottesville’s Little Star and Casa Del Barco at the Canal Walk. (Richmond magazine)

The Queen Bee

Fresh off of debuting her second location of Ms. Bee's Juice Bar at The Valentine museum, get acquainted with Richmond native and entrepreneur Brandi Brown, from her go-to smoothie to the spots that make it into her RVADine rotation. (Richmond magazine)

Walk on the Wild Side

If you like to walk on the funkier side of brewed beverages, or consider yourself an adventurous imbiber, add Fine Creek Brewing Co.’s Wild and Weird Festival to your calendar. The Powhatan-based small-batch brewery will turn its annual celebration of barrel-aged, mixed-culture and sour brews into a special three-day affair and feature appearances from breweries near and far. The lineup? Crooked Run Brewing from Sterling, Back Bay’s Farmhouse Brewing out of Virginia Beach, Hermit Thrush Brewery from Vermont and Black Narrows Brewing from Chincoteague Island, along with locals Vasen Brewing Company, Ardent Craft Ales, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, The Veil Brewing Co. and Triple Crossing Beer.

The Giavos family has introduced Stella’s Grocery Westhampton at Libbie and Grove, complete with a soon-to-debut meze bar that will offer tapas and spritzes. (Richmond magazine)

Dedicated strictly to soft serve, last weekend Charm School Study Hall rolled out its Forest Hill Avenue outpost, dishing out classic cones with fun toppings from coffee dust to birthday crunch confetti. (Richmond magazine)

’Tis the season for al fresco dining — looking to savor and sip in outdoor spaces? We’ve compiled a roundup of spots around the region presenting serious patio-and-chill vibes. (Richmond magazine)

Since the advent of the pandemic, The Broken Tulip has transformed its indoor space into a mini market and mercantile adorned with everything from produce from small Virginia farmers to wallet-friendly natural wines and more. Taking it up a notch, the Carytown eatery recently announced a rotating three-course prix fixe lunch menu for outside dining that, at under $20, is a serious steal.

What’s cooler than whiskey distilled right here in Virginia? A whiskey brewed in collaboration with the Richmond-based blood-gushing metal band GWAR. On Friday, May 28, Catoctin Creek Distillery will unveil Ragnarök Rye, a 92 proof whiskey brewed in white oak barrels that has been declared by Forbes to be “perhaps the coolest partnership between a distillery and a celebrity.”

The Smoky Mug owner Dan Lee says that after a successful first run of its pop-up combining cocktails, tacos and weekend vibes, the North Side cafe-meets-barbecue venture will host a happy hour every Friday.

A new health-conscious concept dubbed CleanEatz is set to open on June 10 at 11801 W. Broad St. The Short Pump cafe will be the first Richmond franchise location, open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and stocked with grab-and-go meals. (News release)

Norfolk’s Benchtop Brewing will join the party of almost 40 Richmond-area breweries. Where and when to find them? In January at The Current, the forthcoming food hall in Manchester from Hatch Kitchen and Lynx Ventures that aims to open in late summer. (Richmond BizSense)

Upcoming Events

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Richmond restaurant owners speak out against city funding for Stone Brewing

RICHMOND, Va. -- Several Richmond restaurant owners told City Council Monday night they support Stone Brewing’s decision to come to Richmond, but they are opposed to the city giving Stone $8 million to open a restaurant.

“We feel they should have to do it on the same merits everybody else in the city has had to work so hard to get,” Michelle Williams, of the Richmond Restaurant Group, told members of council.

Even the co-founders of one of Richmond’s largest breweries, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, spoke at Monday's council meeting. Hardywood co-founders opened the spot on Ownby Lane in September 2011, but their business really changed after a new law took effect July 2012, which allowed them to sell single glasses of beer (without selling food).

“The disparity in the city's financial support for Stone versus its homegrown breweries and restaurants is vast,” co-founder Eric McKay, said.

Last year his brewery received tens of thousands in meals-tax back pay on all beer sold from their business, though they were were originally told their brewery was exempt from the city’s six percent meals tax.

On Monday night City Council approved $23 million in general obligation dollars to fund the first phase of the Stone Brewery project on Monday night, but postponed a decision about the additional $8 million for the bistro. Parker Agelasto and Reva Trammel were the only two members who abstained.

The bistro will be built after the brewing distribution center, along the Richmond riverfront near Rockett’s Landing.

Aerial view of project, from Stone Brewing Company website.

The city said the project will create 300 jobs, increase tourism, and revitalize the area.

“In San Diego they bring in about 600,000 people a year, and we're hoping to see that same impact here,” Lee Downey, head of Richmond’s Department of Economic and Community Development, said.

Downey said the city will eventually get the $8 million back.

“The lease paid by the company for the bistro will actually pay that eight million dollars in financing back to the city,” Downey said.

Jake Crocker, who owns F.W. Sullivan’s, said he believes those millions of dollars come from the city’s steep meals tax, which he said is already hurting Richmond restaurants. His statement has not been confirmed by officials.

Downey and City Council President Charles Samuels highlighted several incentive programs for local businesses at Monday’s meeting.

But, Crocker said those are only for certain “blighted” neighborhoods

People attending the meeting and people following along from home took to Twitter with their thoughts on the subject. Some expressed indignation over the community's sudden concern for the Fulton neighborhood, which has set mostly neglected over a 40-year period.

Richmond Restaurant Group: We feel Stone Brewing should have to do this on their own merits like we had to do. @CBS6 #rvacouncil

— Melissa J. Hipolit (@MelissaCBS6) December 9, 2014

Dear @StoneBrewingCo - as an RVA taxpayer, I'm happy you're coming to #RVA and glad the #rvacouncil made it happen #hashtag

— J. Turner (@CPTAlaska) December 9, 2014

The deal is that potholes and schools get fixed when we invest in projects like @StoneBrewingCo We need more deals like it. #rvacouncil

— Matt Conrad (@MattConrad) December 9, 2014

Hardywood founders here raising some questions about the Stone deal. Say they want more transparency. #rvacouncil

— Ned Oliver (@nedoliver) December 9, 2014

All the concern for Fulton re Stone is really heartwarming. Where y'all been for the last 40 years?? #rvacouncil

— Juliellen Sarver (@JuliellenS) December 9, 2014

Hardywood founders worried Stone will suck up their trained employees. #rvacouncil

— Ned Oliver (@nedoliver) December 9, 2014

Owner of Toast: Asking for more transparency. Said he's disappointed in benefits promised with Redskins training camp. @CBS6 #rvacouncil

— Melissa J. Hipolit (@MelissaCBS6) December 9, 2014


Intermediate Terminal building ‘more than capable’ for restaurant use, report says

The Intermediate Terminal building apparently isn’t in such bad shape after all, according to a structural assessment the city commissioned last month.

The Richmond Economic Development Authority on Thursday presented findings of a structural engineering report it received last week that indicates the building at 3101 E. Main St. appears to be in better condition than initially thought.

The 100-year-old building had been slated to be converted into a bistro by Stone Brewing Co. as part of the 2014 deal with the city that brought the San Diego-based brewery to Richmond.

The 100-year-old building had been slated to be converted into a bistro by Stone Brewing Co. (BizSense file photo)

Those plans got derailed in 2018, when Stone and city officials said the building was structurally insufficient to be converted into a bistro. The two parties had sought City Council’s permission to demolish the building, but halted those efforts later that year.

The report, from local engineering firm Dunbar Milby Williams Pittman & Vaughan, states that the floors of the building appear to be “more than capable of supporting gravity loads for a number of possible future uses, including a restaurant,” and that it should be structurally adequate to resist the effects of a 100-year flood event. The EDA, which owns the building, hired the firm in January to determine what type of commercial operation it could handle.

A recent engineering report concluded the footings of the building are in better shape than originally thought.

The firm said its biggest concern for a future use of the building relates to the soil below the structure’s footings. Froehling & Robertson, another area engineering firm, also reported that reinforcing steel is present in at least some of the footings.

“That was a change from what we’d known before about the building,” EDA Chairman John Molster said regarding the footings.

“I think the range of uses for the building are quite wide, quite good and much better than what we thought,” Molster said.

Leonard Sledge, the city’s economic development director, said his department will be passing the report on to Stone.

“They’re the ones who are tasked with moving forward with the Terminal building. In terms of the findings … there are a number of options to make the building usable with some improvements,” Sledge said.

Stone has been mum about its revised plans for a Richmond bistro, for which it was set to receive $8 million in bonds fronted by the city. But Dominic Engels, Stone’s CEO, said last fall they’re still in the design process and are committed to bringing the concept to Richmond.

In attendance at Thursday’s EDA meeting was Jerry Cable, owner of The Tobacco Co. Restaurant and several other Shockoe Slip properties. In 2018, Cable offered the city $1.5 million to purchase the Intermediate Terminal building, but was rejected, according to a Times-Dispatch report.

Sledge said after the meeting that he has not had any conversations with Cable about the building.

On Friday, Stone co-founder Greg Koch said in a statement that the company had just received the report and was still processing it.

“…Admittedly, it’s quite frustrating to receive a third party detailed engineering report several years ago telling us that the building was non-structurally viable, after we’d invested more than a half million dollars into plans and designs. And now, we were just given another report to us today, saying the opposite,” Koch said.

“Honestly, we are trying to absorb this new info and still aren’t sure what the heck to think.”

Koch went on to say that the company never sought to demolish the building, and that such a decision is not Stone’s call to make since it doesn’t own the structure.

“…we simply went along with a plan that called for demolition as we were under the justifiable impression from experts at the time that there was no other route,” Koch said.

Correction: Stone Brewing has yet to receive the $8 million in bond funding for the bistro. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that it had. The city, in its agreement with Stone, has offered to front the bonds to fund the bistro’s construction.

About the Author: Mike Platania

Mike Platania joined BizSense in December 2016. He covers commercial real estate, restaurants and breweries. He graduated from Virginia Tech. Reach him at [email protected] or (804) 554-6872.

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Opening Soon: Dogtown Brewing Co. in Manchester

Dogtown Brewing Co. is located at 1209 Hull St. in Manchester.

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Brewmaster Ben Spencer

Dogtown Brewing Co. will feature 20 taps.

Window seating inside Dogtown

A motto at Dogtown Brewing: Find Your Pack

The first-level bar area inside Dogtown

One level of the Dogtown will feature an area for games and lounging.

A view of the city from Dogtown's rooftop

The rooftop area will feature its own separate bar complete with ample seating, dim sum carts and scenic views.

The rooftop seating area at Dogtown

Dogtown will initially sell a few of its beers in four-packs of cans.

The former Thalhimers department store at 1209 Hull St. in Manchester will soon be home to a multistory beer hall and full-service restaurant when Dogtown Brewing Co. hosts its grand opening on Saturday, July 27.

Brewmaster Ben Spencer, 45, grew up on the city’s North Side but fled west at 21. Living in Boulder, Colorado, he fell in love with home brewing thanks to one of his roommates. A couple years later, he became a keg washer at Oasis Brewing in Denver and slowly worked his way up the brewery ladder.

He returns to the city with an extensive portfolio, one that includes collaborations with meaderies and wineries and stints at Oskar Blues and Boulder Beer Company in Colorado, as well as Strike Brewing Co. in San Jose, California.

Spencer’s longest tenure thus far was in San Francisco at Magnolia Brewing Co., where he served as brewmaster for 11 years and won three medals at the Great American Beer Festival. He also dabbled in beer consulting and facilities management for Laughing Monk and Standard Deviant Brewing in San Francisco and Seaside Brewing in Oregon.

“There were other things peppered in, but I always came back to beer,” Spencer says. “I’d like to think I came into this fully prepared. … As a brewer you are always gathering what you learned one day and applying it the next.”

The Richmond Spencer knew in the ’90s is vastly different from the hop-heavy, food-driven city it is today. When he left, the only game in town was Legend Brewing Co., but now the ever-growing number of breweries in the region is teetering close to 40.

With two decades of brewing experience, knowledge of different beer markets and a sense of hometown pride, Spencer hopes to bring something unique to the scene and remind Richmonders of the tried-and-true beer styles the culture was built on, not just fleeting trends.

“I like to focus on beers that taste like beer,” Spencer says. “So much beer history has come before us, and it’s our job as new brewers to morph it into what people want now. We’re mostly focusing on traditional styles.”

Spencer says his specialties are German- and English-style beers, and he wants to introduce as many gluten-reduced products as possible. The 20-tap squad of suds at Dogtown includes Fetch!, a German-style Kolsch Manchester Standard, a Virginia Pale Ale Fence Hopper, a West Coast IPA Bulldog Barleywine and the forthcoming Mexican Hairless Mexican lager, Triple Dog Dare Belgian tripel, Rosenegk Tidal Wave session ale and more.

A major component that differentiates Dogtown from the majority of area breweries: food. “That’s what Richmond is missing,” Spencer says, “breweries with food.”

Currently Fine Creek Brewing and Legend Brewing are among the few local breweries with on-site kitchens, while Triple Crossing has a designated pizza oven. In May Hardywood West Creek announced plans for Joe Sparatta of Heritage and Southbound to open a restaurant in its space.

The menu at Dogtown concentrates on pub-style fare, blending German, Salvadoran and Southern influences. Items are described as “spicy, pickled and meaty” and meant to be paired with a pint.

The elevated “hand foods” are feature seasonal ingredients and include creations such as pulled pork, mushroom and garlic, and queso and scallion pupusas Anderson's Neck oysters (from another company owned by the Dogtown Brewing Co. owners) a variety of hot dogs and sausages, dry-rubbed wings, pork schnitzel and Belgian ale-braised beef ribs and almost 20 different sauces including mango-jalapeño, sweet German mustard, lemon-caper butter and horseradish cream.

“We’re trying to keep it approachable,” says Executive Chef Addie Meredith, a Durham, North Carolina, native previously of Tazza Kitchen. “I’m super stoked about the pupusas it’s something that’s become more prevalent in the city.”

There are currently no plans for distribution of Dogtown's beer, but Spencer says it is something they envision in the future. A handful of the beers can be purchased on site, and the brewery also offers crowlers.

Dogtown also boasts an expansive rooftop bar with traveling dim sum carts and a game room on the mezzanine.

The project adds to the growing Hull Street commercial corridor and marks the latest venture from husband-and-wife team Michael and Laura Hild, who opened Hot Diggity Donuts last summer and Butterbean Market & Cafe in early January. Last week Ajay Brewer of Brewer’s Cafe, along with partners James Harris and Josh Reed, opened a waffle and milkshake concept, Brewer’s Waffles.


Watch the video: Walking up to Stone Brewing Richmond VA (December 2021).