Love this post-pandemic planning. Youngstown, Ohio’s Penguin City Brewing Co., purchased a 32,704 sq ft warehouse space in downtown that will be the new home of its production line of Penguin City beers, plus house a taproom/restaurant, event center and rental space. Penguin City currently brews approximately 120 barrels per month between their two locations, so there is a ton of future growth potential baked into this move.
“There is plenty of room for us to grow” says Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki, Co-Owner, Penguin City Brewing Co. “The concern we had when looking for a place was getting something too small and having to keep adding on. The Republic warehouse gives us the room to add more tanks as we continue to grow and distribute more.”
The building, which has 5,120 sq ft of office space and 27,584 sq feet of warehouse space was purchased by Penguin City Brewing Company for $575,000. The team has been working on finding this new space to call home since August of 2018, and being in the heart of the city was key.
“Having all our production at one location, along with a taproom/restaurant, will allow us to expand our brand offerings as well as streamline our distribution process,” says Michael Pontikos, Brand Manager of Penguin City Brewing, “we knew this was where we wanted to be, right in the heart of the Mahoning Valley.”
Site and growth plans
The Republic Warehouse has a lot of history. The property was first developed in 1884 as a stable, saloon, wagon shop, and lumber yard. Throughout the years it has been a hotel, restaurant, billiards parlor, blacksmith shop, candy shop, steel and iron fabricators, and steel warehouse. “We definitely want to showcase the rich history of the property when we design the taproom and will be getting in touch with Mahoning Valley Historical Society to help us with that,” says Lyras-Bernacki.
“We’re considering a 20-barrel brew house plus fermentation and conditioning tanks by Deutsche Beverage,” said Richard Bernacki, Co-Owner, Penguin City Brewing Co. “With the new system we’ll be able to output much more product, oversee every process from start to finish and do it with a considerable increase in efficiency. This will help us pursue distributors in the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In addition, we’ll have a smaller pilot system which will allow for dialing in new recipes and experimental brews for the taproom.”
The $3.7 million renovation will be done in phases. Phase 1 is the brewery and taproom. Phase 2 will be restaurant and event center with an opening of Phase 1 slated for summer 2021. The project will be funded through private loans and grant money. They are currently working with Councilman Julius Oliver and Nikki Posterli for assistance from the City of Youngstown.
What stands out most isn’t just the bold new future the Penguin City team has for its business, but their passion for the city itself and how their brewery can be focal point of the downtown’s current renaissance.
When they started Penguin City Brewing Company, creating good paying jobs was one of their top priorities. When the brewery opens, they will be hiring 19 jobs in manufacturing, distribution, sales and promotion, and taproom staff. They are projected to be at 40+ employees in three years.
“This was possible because of all the support we got from the people in our Valley! We want to thank Valley EDP, Lisa Resnick, TeamNEO, JobsOhio, Councilman Julius Oliver, and the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber for all their help and assistance. We are hoping this can be a wonderful addition to all the great things happening in Downtown Youngstown. We always said from the beginning, Penguin City Beer is for our valley, and we hope the City of Youngstown sees this and knows that we are working towards expanding and creating jobs. We want to make our city proud,” Lyras-Bernacki says.