New business brewing on historic Main Street Brewery-restaurant eyes spot near new cigar shop

November 25, 1996|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

The smell of success on Main Street, Annapolis, will include fermenting yeast and the smoke from fine cigars.

Bay Brewing Co. is to present its application to the Annapolis city council tonight to open a restaurant with a microbrewery and bar, a move city officials say is a good economic sign for the downtown business district.

The likely addition of the restaurant-microbrewery would come on the heels of other businesses and agencies settling on the historic street, including a cigar shop that will open in about two weeks and the Maryland State Teachers Association, which began moving into its new headquarters last week.

"We're thrilled about the microbrewery," said Susan K. Zellers, the city's economic development director. "People seem to watch Main Street to watch how the economy is doing, so keeping [the space] filled is a positive indicator for all businesses in town.

"And usually, the economy downtown is based on Dock Street, so it's nice to have businesses move up the hill," she said.

Information on the number of vacancies on Main Street was not available, Zellers said.

But with a favorable vote on the application from the Planning Commission, city aldermen say the proposed microbrewery would have no trouble getting approval.

"We don't want to be in the beer-manufacturing business in the historic district, but I don't think there's going to be a problem with it," said Alderman Louise Hammond. "You do wonder when we will reach a saturation point with restaurants because we don't want this to be just a food area, but we don't want the empty spots on Main Street, either.

"Downtown is hurting because we did not have the crowds of people this summer as we usually have, so I'm happy to see that new businesses are coming in," said Hammond, the Ward 1 Democrat.

The brewing company's plan for 193-A Main St. consists of acasual restaurant with gourmet cuisine and a microbrewery that would produce about 177 barrels of beer a year, said Ron Kessler, vice president and general manager of Bay Brewing Co.

Total seating capacity would be 77, making the entire business considerably smaller than the city's other microbrewery, the Ram's Head Tavern in the first block of West St.

"We've put a lot of time and effort into this and we think we've got a good concept here," said Kessler, who used to work in the real estate business.

"We're hoping it will cause a snowball effect by getting other businesses to fill the vacancies in the area and pull more street traffic up Main Street."

Its competition has nothing but good will, said Bill Muehlhauser, owner of the Ram's Head.

"I think its great," Muehlhauser said. "This town can support two, if not three, microbreweries. Competition is good. I just wish it was next door because it would be more fun with all of us in a group."

Pub Date: 11/25/96

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