The suds were flowing at Beach Fire Brewing and Nosh House Tuesday and Mayor Andy Adams did the pouring.
Actually, the mayor poured one beer at the new craft brewery in downtown Campbell River and the beer has been flowing for some time but Tuesday was the ceremonial grand opening for the business and Mayor Adams was invited to pour the symbolic first beer in lieu of the traditional ribbon cutting.
The craft brewery has been one of Campbell River’s most anticipated new business openings in a while as eager beer lovers watched the operation go through the various stages of municipal permits and, being a licensed establishment, provincial liquor approval.
For partners Matthew Fox, Darrin Finnerty and Laura Gosnell, it was an idea hatched over lunch at another Campbell River eatery, Misty Finns
“It’s been a long and arduous journey, but with the help and support of many, we’re here,” Fox declared at Tuesday’s grand opening. “It’s been a year and a half in which we’ve taken an idea all the way to reality. We first hatched the idea over lunch at Misty Finns last summer.”
The partners found a location that met their needs last winter and in the spring rezoned it, filled out all the paperwork and designed the space.
Beach Fire Brewing is located at 594 11th Ave. which some will remember recently as an electrical contractor and even the Liberal party campaign headquarters but oldtimers will remember it as the old CRTV building.
The building was gutted in May and construction started in July. They were given an occupancy permit and then in November, they opened their doors and just recently received their full liquor licence.
Fox thanked a number of people in his speech at the opening, including his fellow partners, the partners’ families, other breweries for their mentorship, volunteers for their hard work – “Especially our dads, they’re still working” – and local government for their guidance and political support.
“And lastly, our community, for their moral support and their patronage,” Fox said. “We look forward to all celebrating this place together.
“And the only thing left to say is…let the beer flow!”
Adams congratulated the partners on the opening of their establishment. Adams pointed out that it was only last year that he presided over the opening of Healthway Natural Foods Market down the street. The city has introduced a revitalization effort called Downtown Refresh and it is beginning to take effect with business expansion moving along 11th Avenue, as exemplified by Beach Fire and Healthyway.
“But this wouldn’t have happened without these three sitting down and going ‘Campbell River really needs this and we really want to do this,’” Adams said.
Adams recalled Fox going around showing a commercial of a guy ditching the shirt and tie and chucking the office life and that served as a model for the Beach Fire partner.
“He got rid of the tie and put on a lumberjack shirt and grew the beard and here he is, looking after this and that’s really cool to see these guys that had a vision and today officially opening with all of the licences,” Adams said
The mayor said the licensing and permitting process has been “another experience” for the partners in itself.
“But you’ve really hit a mark here in Campbell River and I wish you nothing but best of success,” Adams said. “Thank-you for believing in Campbell River. Thank-you for providing another great venue and great option.”
MLA Claire Trevena also addressed the gathering. She said the excitement around the opening is not just about having a new craft brewery.
“But we have three young people who are vesting professionally in a business here. We see people retiring. We know we have got the problem of successorship and who’s going to keep business running. To see three people who are putting their time and their energy and their commitment and their money into our community as young entrepreneurs is something that we should all be celebrating,” Trevena said. “I do wish every success for now, for the Christmas season and for the coming years. Thank-you for putting your faith in our community.”
A tour of the brewing facility was provided for the media and political and business dignitaries. The facility includes the craft brewery on site as well as the pub/restaurant section.
It takes about two weeks to brew up a batch of beer depending on the type, Fox explained during the tour.
He suggested that they may have been a bit too conservative with their production estimates and are already concerned about running out of certain types of beers and are even seeing a need for more equipment.
The business has an occupancy permit for 90 people and they are looking at a phase 2 which would include a patio.
The operation currently has 20 people working at the business – full and part time – and they’re looking at perhaps hiring more already.
Meanwhile, the doors are open, the lunch and dinner menus are drawn up and the beer is flowing.
Matthew Fox (above) conducts a tour of the facility during Tuesday’s grand opening. Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror