A longtime vacant storefront on Long Beach’s main drag is getting a new lease on life with a planned opening of a brewery and tasting room next year.
The Long Beach Board of Zoning Appeals approved plans last month for the Point Lookout Brewing Company to complete an $800,000 renovation of the building at 50 W. Park Ave., which has been vacant for two years.
Owners Luke Heneghan and Molly Allare plan to lease and convert the space that was previously occupied by the McLellan’s Five and Dime and the Long Beach Craft and Variety store, which closed in September 2016.
The zoning board approved variances for off-street parking on Park Avenue and to add a 41-foot bar inside the first floor of the 10,000-square-foot building.
Long Beach does not allow any new bars to open in the city without first going before the zoning board to make sure the businesses can accommodate parking, zoning board assistant corporation counsel Greg Kalnitsky said.
The proposal received no opposition during the Sept. 27 zoning board public hearing, where the building permit was approved unanimously.
“The applicant will be repurposing a long time vacant and historic space in the City of Long Beach by investing over $800,000 for what appears to be a gorgeous buildout,” zoning board chairman Rocco Morelli said. “Not only will the City of Long Beach have its own brewery, breweries in other locations around the country have proven to be centers of their communities and assets to the local economy.”
Heneghan said the building will be converted into a 15-barrel brewhouse and taproom bar. The brewery will not serve food but will partner with local restaurants and vendors to serve pop-up food stands at the brewery and showcase local artists.
“We want to focus on our tap room sales and bringing in people to drink our own beer,” Heneghan said. “We were looking for a space, and this spot was always the perfect place for a taproom-centered brewery.”
Patrons will see the large steel fermenting equipment in the front window next to the bar and tables, Heneghan said. The building, which was partially flooded during superstorm Sandy, will need an overhaul to bring It up to fire code and an upgrade of the building’s heating and air conditioning system. Heneghan said he hopes to complete work by the end of next summer.
The brewery will offer four to six mainstay beers ranging from stouts to pale ales and IPAs, along with a variety of rotating local beers. Heneghan started as a home brewer while working at the family pub, J.A. Heneghan’s in Point Lookout.
The Point Lookout brewery currently uses a one-barrel electric system to supply beer for special events. Heneghan said he is being mentored by a brewer from a microbrew in Colorado.
The brewery will also be rebranded as the Bright Eye Brewing Company in memory of the Bright Eye Fishing Company that thrived in Point Lookout. The bright eye on a fish indicates it was freshly caught, Heneghan said.
“We want our beer to be a fresh local product and as fresh as you can get it,” he said.