What’s brewing on Water Street? Appalachian will be making beer, opening restaurant in Lititz
By: STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff, Staff Writer
Lititz-brewed hefe weizen may be the toast of the town this summer if plans come together for a new brewery on Water Street.
Everything appears to be in place to make that happen as Paul Brown, owner of the former Lititz Junction Tavern at 55 N. Water St., has confirmed that a long-term lease is in place that will allow the Harrisburg-based Appalachian Brewing Co. to open on the second floor of his industrial site within the next two months.
"We’re diligently working so they (ABC) can open soon," Brown said. "I think this is a good addition to the grand scheme of things for Lititz."
The plan is for ABC to operate a restaurant and bar similar to its existing sites in Harrisburg, Gettysburg, Camp Hill and Collegeville. Brown’s liquor license will be transferred to ABC in the coming weeks, and the brewing of specialty Belgian, German and English beers will begin as soon as state permitting is finalized. And because ABC will be occupying an existing use zoned for manufacturing, no action is required by Lititz Borough Council.
"Everything seems to be in place," said Artie Tafoya, director of operations for ABC. "We are seeking to open some time between May 22 and June 22, depending on what happens with licensing."
Tafoya said he loves the warmth of the old brick building that once housed the Simplex Paper Box Corporation, and he first contacted Brown with interest nearly four years ago.
"When you look at it, it looks like an Appalachian Brewing Co.," he said.
Tafoya is one of three partners in the booming brewery business, joined by Jack Sproch and Shawn Gallagher.
"I’ve been in the brew pub business since 1988, so it’s really all I’ve ever done," Tafoya said.
He met his partners in 1994 and they opened the original Appalachian Brewing Company in Harrisburg in 1997.
"We’ve proven that we can participate in a small community and draw people into that community," Tafoya said about their sizable investment in Lititz. "So, we really don’t look at just Lititz as our base of customers. We look at the number of people that come into the area. We look at how many people we think we can drive in from the general area. It’s all that added together that makes us confident that we should be able to have a good run at this location.
"We look forward to being a part of this community for a long time, and we believe and we hope that we can drive business for everybody else as much as they are able to drive it for us. I think, all-in-all, that working together, it can be a great business scenario for everybody."
Venture Lititz was a major facilitator in the process of bringing the brewery to town, and Kelly Withum, executive director of the nine-member organization, is ecstatic to see all the hard work pay off.
"We’ve been trying to recruit full-service restaurants for town since I started, which was four and a half years ago," she said. "Everybody’s pumped up about this. The community is very excited. Appalachian Brewing Co. has such a wonderful reputation."
The tough economy and banks not loaning money to restaurants has made bringing new businesses to town difficult, Withum said, but studies have showed that Lititz has quite a bit of food and beverage leakage, meaning dollars are being spent outside of this area because there are not enough existing restaurant/bar options. The addition of ABC should stop, or slow, that leak and provide a nice boost to the local economy as a whole.
"The town being so walkable, and the fact that craft beer is so popular right now, I can see people having dinner at Appalachian and then walking to the Bulls Head, or having dinner at the Bulls Head and then going over to Appalachian and trying out their latest brew, or whatever," she said. So, it gets people to walk past all the businesses, even the businesses that feel they’re a little more remote because they’re not on that first block of Main Street."
While the brewery will be the main stage of the Water Street facility, Brown is also leasing five retail shops below the restaurant, on the first floor. Two of the shops have already been rented, but he is unable to reveal what they are at this time. He is also looking to rent his "Great Room," a 3,600 square foot area above the bar, to a single tenant.
The Kready General Store museum will not reopen, he said, and Brown and his family will continue to use the top floor as a residence. More BREWERY, page A14