North Carolina is one step closer to seeing its first cooperative brewpub. The Burlington Beer Works cooperative announced Sept. 25 it will house its brewery and restaurant on 302 S. Main St. in downtown Burlington.
The cooperative, consisting of more than 1,000 members, purchased the space for $275,000 from Core Properties and Development owner Matthew Robinson. Burlington Beer Works board member and Elon University lecturer in communications Hal Vincent said the space on the corner of South Main Street and Front Street is exactly where they want to be.
“We wanted a place in downtown Burlington from the beginning,” Vincent said. “We believe that reinvesting in downtown is so important so we were always looking in that area. It was really a combination of perfect location and building infrastructure that drew us to that spot.”
Ian Baltutis, president of the Burlington Beer Works board, backed up Vincent’s sentiments in a press release.
“This downtown location is the best space we could have imagined to provide Burlington and Alamance County with a cooperative brewery and restaurant,” Baltutis said. “It’s been remarkable to see the desire of so many people to own a piece of downtown Burlington’s revitalization. Ownership purchases continue to come in even as we have surpassed the initial 1,000 owner goal.”
The cooperative, which formed in September 2013, is beginning plans to renovate the interior of the building by refurbishing the floors, installing lighting and fixing the walls, according to Vincent.
The first phase of construction will focus on building a bar by the end of the year to be open Friday and Saturday evenings and serve regional beers, with the goal of having the bar ready to go by the end of the year.
Future plans focus on the brewery itself, which is planned to be installed and begin operations in 2016. A full-service kitchen serving locally inspired pub food will comprise the final phase of construction but will require a pod of 2,000 owners.
Between the bar, brewery and kitchen, the Burlington Beer Works site is expected to employ 18 to 30 people and seat about 150 customers, Baltutis told the Burlington Times-News.
According to the Burlington Beer Works website, beer recipes for the brewery will be sourced through partnerships with local home and professional brewers such as the East of Elon Home Brewing Cooperative. The beers themselves will be crafted locally, brewed on site and only available at the cooperative’s restaurant, while the food will be locally focused with seasonal menu items.
Cooperative brewpub, pubs or restaurants owned by multiple people that brew beer on location, are just as rare nationally as they are in North Carolina. Only two are in operation in the United States, according to a Burlington Beer Works news release.
“Co-op brewpubs in general are just a rare thing,” Vincent said. “There are a lot of co-op groceries around, but this type of co-op certainly takes a lot of faith and investment in the community, which we have.”
The 1,000-plus owners, who are largely Burlington residents, joined by investing $100 into Burlington Beer Works. The co-op has also received support from local businesses like the Fat Frogg Bar and Grill, The Oak House and West End Terrace, which have hosted owner events and drives for it.
Vincent added that attracting customers from the Elon area, including students, will be a large part of the cooperative’s success, despite the Burlington-based focus.
“We hope it will attract Elon students,” said Vincent, who is also faculty director at Live Oak Communications for Elon. “By being a full-service restaurant as well as a brewery, we think it’s another excellent option for people in both Burlington and Elon to see this revitalization of downtown.”