This is what the R.Shea Brewing production facility and restaurant wants to bring to downtown Akron. Currently, Akron is gaining microbreweries such as Akronym and Lock 15 which brings our total brewery count to:
This represents ten breweries for Akron. Most of these are small as far as production (myself included), they can’t handle a lot of people and are spread out. Akron, thus far, is not known to have a ‘beer tourism’ industry such as neighbors Cincinnati, Columbus or Michigan’s Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Ann Arbor, Traverse City, Detroit, Marquette, Lansing and Ypsilanti. Of the Michigan cities, Grand Rapids and Detroit are one of the top five metropolitan areas for beer tourism. Hotels routinely offer a ‘beer trail’ guide and many people can walk to many of the breweries.
“Don’t Let Michigan Beat Us”
I would like to see Akron embrace a ‘beer tourism’ model that Michigan has embraced as a destination for out-of-towners – not just people in Summit County. At least once a week a patron will tell me of their trips to the Michigan brewery districts. But again, our current breweries are just too far apart for pedestrian (even bike) travels and with no dedicated beer buses or trails hooking anybody up together on a ‘path’ or ‘map’. Cleveland has regular beer buses, so you would think with ten breweries, we would have one. Not so.
“Location, Location, Location”
There is a unique piece of property in the heart of downtown, that has a 55,000 sq.ft facility setup perfect for a brewery and restaurant. This space also offers neighboring areas in adjacent buildings for several 10,000 sq.ft.+ expansions. This same location is undergoing a parking lot expansion that has just gotten city approval.
This is right in the heart of downtown! This is within easy walking distance to the Rubber Ducks Stadium, the Civic Theater and the dozens of other restaurant and bars. This location is right on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath and easy to get to from Route 8. And again, there will be plenty of parking in the new parking area being built right next to our proposed facility.
-An R.Shea Brewing production facility and restaurant that has an 8,000 sq.ft MEZZANINE TAPROOM & RESTAURANT overlooking the 35’ tall production brewery floor. A bridge will go across the brewery to an outdoor area from the taproom. This is similar to Cincinnati’s Rhinegeist Brewing (minus the bridge) which has seen incredible growth and is one of Cincinnati’s premier destination just for it’s coolness. This setup is easily feasible with little additional work at my proposed location.
-R.Shea Brewing will be directly on the Ohio and Erie Towpath which will link us and Lock 15 Brewing, Akronym Brewing…and then R.Shea Brewing in ‘The Valley.’
-R.Shea Brewing will be on the same street as Akronym Brewing.
-R.Shea Brewing is working on getting a few other new, smaller breweries into this space, though the talks are only preliminary.
-R.Shea Brewing and Thirsty Dog will be minutes away from each other.
Once the above is in place, the current craft beer buses (which don’t visit us more than once a month) can have a nearly weekly loop with all of us and start picking up tourists at neighboring hotels – especially with Thirsty Dog’s new Akron taproom that can serve more people (coming soon!).
“What does Biology say of this?”
An organism (or area – Akron) is stronger if it can establish symbiotic relationships with others where both receive benefits. This location would definitely benefit Akron, it’s other breweries and it’s other entertainment venues as being an additional magnet to the Downtown. There would be increased sales tax revenue, increased jobs overall which equates to more tax revenues for the City.
“Where’s the Proof?”
The Summit County Visitor Bureau brewery passport program has proved that people want and embrace this with giving out nearly 10,000 passports in six weeks and a second round already being distributed. The Ohio Craft Brewers Association launched a Ohio Brewery Passport App that will link up every brewery in Ohio with a similar incentive program to visit breweries.
Akron’s new brewery district will be situated right in the heart of downtown so people don’t have to travel far at all to hit several destinations at once – be it baseball, a play, the trails and beer. With beer buses linking ALL of Akron’s breweries, we will then be truly a destination for travelers.
The new R.Shea Production Facility and Taproom will be large enough, and with a uniqueness – especially with a few other breweries in the same complex, that nobody from Cleveland to Canton will be able to replicate. We hope to be an anchor for the city which will also help all of the other local businesses.
“And Last But Not Least, Jobs”
This brewery and restaurant will automatically bring about 54 full time jobs in it’s first month with another 20 in the next several years as the production brewery volume grows.
WHY AM I WRITING THIS?
This project has gotten expensive I won’t lie, it has some ‘unique’ issues that make it a little more expensive of a build-out. It’s not undoable, but I need to convince people in higher places of this vision and furthering it’s support. I’m looking for additional grants and loans by the city, county and state to bridge some funding gaps to make this happen. I wrote this to see if YOU are even feel’in the vision…if I am even on the right track. I have been born and raised in Akron my entire life and have a unique attachment to the city and have been a part of it’s ups and downs.. Great progress has been made in the last decade but I would love to be able to give back in a big way to further this city.
Let me know if you support the main theme of this post, an ‘Akron Brewery District’, to see if we can continue this discussion in a bigger way.