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Friday, January 19, 2018

After construction flaps, Lagunitas vacates East Bay Street property

Beer bust

Posted by Kinsey Gidick on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 10:12 AM

The 1880's building, that sold which sold cotton, rice, and groceries, is vacant once again - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • The 1880's building, that sold which sold cotton, rice, and groceries, is vacant once again
The scaffolding has surrounded Lagunitas' 161 East Bay St. address since July. That's when the Petaluma, Calif. brewery announced its closure for structural repairs. Now it looks like the space could remain a construction site indefinitely. Lagunitas has packed up its brewing equipment and closed for good.

Lagunitas has officially vacated the property a year and a half after opening.

So how did we get here? Let's take a look back at Lagunitas' Charleston timeline:

June 2016 - Lagunitas announces Charleston location
In a Post & Courier story, the brewery gave a statement that, “this turn-of-the-century landmark will be a cornerstone location for Lagunitas in the Southeast, offering small-batch beers that are exclusive to the Charleston taproom and brewed in the existing 10-barrel brewhouse."

Sept. 7, 2016 - Lagunitas lays out its Charleston plans
The brewery tells CP it plans to open a Beer Sanctuary and Tap Room with brewing on site and its plans to make few changes to the space — "The building is already beautiful so just a little change in decor," Lagunitas marketing director Karen Hamilton says.

Sept. 9, 2016 - Lagunitas' remodel infuriates wedding parties
Before the Cali brewery announced its Charleston expansion, many couples had Southend Brewery booked for their reception and wedding parties. Hosting those events under Lagunitas wouldn't have been a big deal had the brewery not announced a 1970s basement romper room renovation. "It basically goes from rustic and historic to looking like someone's garage," said one frustrated bride.

July 2017 - Lagunitas shutters for repairs
The brewery halts business and lets go of staffers in its TapRoom and Beer Sanctuary.  "After we took it over, we discovered that the building needed a lot of work! Once we realized the extent of it, we knew we could no longer do the work while open to the public," Hamilton says.

Jan. 2018 - Lagunitas taps out
Which brings us to today. Lagunitas has ended its lease. "We are pretty sad that this did not go as we hoped. We had been doing repairs on the building since we took over and planned on continuing to repair and update while we were open. We've done that kind of maintenance and repair many times. However, we realized we could not safely do the repairs that were becoming obvious while we were open, so we closed in the hopes we could expedite the work. Then after taking a lot of time to do an in-depth examination of repairs that were absolutely necessary, it became clear that there was far more to be done than we ever imagined," Hamilton says.

But this might not be the last act for the brewing company. Hamilton adds that "we still hope to be able to stay a part of the local community and are looking at options that would allow us to do just that. We fell in love with Charleston and the people and are hopeful for the future!"

As for 161 East Bay St. location owned by New Jersey firm Maloof Equities S.C. LLC, we have early bets on it becoming a boutique hotel opening in the space, although its technically just outside the accommodations overlay zone. Then again, this is Charleston, where there's a will, there's always a way.

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