PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council's Committee on Community and Economic Development approved an Economic Development Fund allocation for a proposed North Street brewery and restaurant.
The committee unanimously agreed Monday to pull $150,000 from the GE Fund to help the proposed 41 North Tap Room purchase brewing equipment.
"We definitely want to create an experience in the space that will change what is already there but just in general having a place you can go and have an experience where staff can educate," owner Robert Trask said. "Where you can feel like you are part of a community."
Trask also owns 51 Park Restaurant and Tavern in Lee and plans to purchase 37-45 North St., site of the former J. Allen's Clubhouse, and invest $1.7 million in the property including its purchase.
"The location was an opportune thing that came up, and it is unusual to find a large space like that with the infrastructure of a restaurant," he said.
41 North Tap Room would also be responsible for creating 30 full-time jobs.
Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer said the project underwent a third-party independent study and based on Trask's experience and realistic business plan, the business was deemed a good fit for the downtown consistent with the city's master plan.
She said typically these funds are not used for restaurants, however, the brewery aspect makes the project more favorable.
"It could become a destination and a supplier for other businesses," she said.
She added that Berkshire County has lagged behind in the microbrewery industry and 41 North Tap Room would not only put Pittsfield on the map for beer enthusiasts but help deepen the industry in the county.
Trask said his business in Lee is quite successful and he anticipates some crossover between the two. He said beer made in Pittsfield will be sold in Lee and the Lee restaurant would push patrons toward the brewery.
"I think there would be a lot of synergies there that would be helpful," he said.
There was instant support among the committee and Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo liked that the business would be downtown and would include the renovation of an existing building. He also saw a "multiplier effect" and felt the brewery and restaurant could help other downtown businesses.
"I feel good about this project and it hits a lot of the markers that Pittsfield is looking for," Caccamo said.
He did have some questions about the equipment and Trask said the funding would help him purchase a portion of the equipment. He said in total the equipment would likely cost over $300,000.
He said he will either purchase a seven or 10-barrel brew house and will need fermentors, kegs, keg washers, and tanks among other things.
He added that he would be interested in purchasing packaging equipment as well.
"Tourists like to bring home some piece of the brewery," he said. "You can build a lot of hype with a can release."
Trask said he plans to use his own recipes but hopes to hire a head brewer to perfect and add to his own creations.
"Just like a restaurant who hires a chef I will hire a head brewer that can execute on my ideas but more importantly the right person who can innovate and bring it to the next level," he said.
As for the restaurant, the foundation of the menu will be based on meals he knows are popular but the menu would really be driven by beer selection -- pairing food with specific beers.
Trask went through some preliminary design decisions and said he would like to centralize the bar, expose the brick, and improve the lighting. He said the brewery equipment would be visible.
He added that he also would like to build a permanent stage for live entertainment. He also emphasized Sunday brunch "kegs and eggs" with live entertainment.
"One of the things I found coming to Pittsfield on a Sunday is a ghost town," he said. "Everything is closed so we want to play off a Sunday kegs and eggs idea."
He said he would be open to working with the Beacon for premier parties or even sports viewing gatherings even though the establishment won't be a sports bar.
Last month, the City Council referred the allocation to the subcommittee along with a tax financing agreement the subcommittee on Finance will take up Thursday.
City Council ultimately will decide whether to approve the agreement.
Trask said he would like to be open this summer but a more realistic time frame is the fall.
"It is another attraction and it is another place to gather that will be downtown that will increase foot traffic," he said. "I think it is a win win. It will be good for the city and it has been a goal of mine. We are really excited for the opportunity."
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Local Real Estate Firm Trying to Support Small Businesses
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Nocher Realty is lending a helping hand to fellow businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak.
"If we don't support them through these unusual times they won’t be there when this all blows over, when business is back to normal we need these shops back in action," owner Jason Nocher said. "Small business is the backbone of the Berkshires."
Nocher Realty has partnered with various businesses throughout Berkshire County including the Corner Lunch and Berkshire Printing & Embroidery.
In many cases, Nocher has purchased something directly from the local business to help sustain and promote it. Like purchasing 50 breakfast sandwiches from the Corner Lunch and using its Facebook page to invite the public grab one, first come, first served.
The online store features a variety of vendors and is open to all local residents. Those who have SNAP benefits or those who have recently lost their jobs or are facing economic hardship from the pandemic are eligible for $30 a week in free food from the Virtual Farmers Market.
click for more
Inspired by the book "We're Going on a Bear Hunt," which Susan Wrba likes to read with her 2-year-old son, Wrba is organizing a "bear hunt" across the Berkshires from Friday, April 3, to Sunday, April 5. click for more