TAMPA — Tampa Bay Brewing Co. was one of only a handful of microbreweries in the area when it opened in a tiny Ybor City space in 1995.
Twenty years later and in the midst of a local craft beer boom it helped nurture, the brewpub announced plans Wednesday to build a second brewery and restaurant to keep pace with customer demand for its Old Elephant Foot India pale ale.
Construction of the 17,400-square-foot standalone production and packaging facility on 2.1 acres off Race Track Road and Hillsborough Boulevard is scheduled to start in June. When it’s completed in 2015, the facility will include a 4,200-square-foot restaurant with a patio, similar to Tampa Bay Brewing Co.’s current 230-seat location in the Centro Ybor plaza in Ybor City.
The move is a response to growing customer demand for craft beer, said Mike Doble, the company’s head of business operations. The craft brewer produces about 2,000 barrels annually at Centro Ybor for consumption at the brewpub, production in cans for retail sales and distribution in kegs to about 150 restaurant clients.
The new 30-barrel brewing system is expected to boost production by an additional 6,000 barrels, with a future maximum capacity of 12,000 barrels. The expansion also will give the company the ability to provide a wider variety of beers.
“People are demanding more access to our beers on the shelves,” Doble said. “They want us in Publix and the local liquor store. Being constrained by the facility we have doesn’t make any sense. When customers want more beer, we want to give it to them.”
The Doble family, which includes co-owner Vicki and her son, co-owner and brewmaster David, began searching last summer for a new location west of Tampa. They settled on a warehouse in Pinellas County adjacent to the Pinellas Trail in Ozona, but ran into regulations prohibiting the sale of alcohol on industrial sites.
Mike Doble said when the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. heard about the plans, the agency searched its land database for a suitable construction location and assisted in finding grants and credits for electricity and staff training.
“As a business guy trying to pull together a million pieces, hearing them say, ‘We’ll chip in and pull things together,’ it’s a good feeling,” Doble said. “Hillsborough County’s economic folks were very supportive.”
Doble said this is the first time Tampa Bay Brewing Co. will have built a facility from scratch. It’s Centro Ybor location formerly was an Italian restaurant that had to be converted for use as a brewpub.
USAmeriBank in Ybor City agreed to a $5 million loan backed by the U.S. Small Business Administration to pay for the project, which will hire 60 employees for new positions.
“They found the money and made it happen for us,” he said. “They stepped up.”
During the recent boom in Tampa Bay area breweries, most have opted for food trucks at their brewhouse instead of building full-scale restaurants. Cigar City Brew Pub in Carrollwood has on-site brewing, but most of that capacity is used for consumption at the restaurant. The new Ulele restaurant in Tampa Heights will brew a variety of beers when it opens this summer, most of which will be consumed on-site as well as at the Columbia Restaurant
“We do our own thing,” Doble said. “We’ve learned our own lessons from 19 years of doing this.”