Plans filed for new microbrewery, food truck venture in Lawrence

Craft brewing operations have been known to take over a garage. (No, the scientists in the funny suits still haven’t determined why the paint is peeling off my F-150.) But now there are plans for a craft brewing operation to take over an entire lumberyard. Plans have been filed for a new microbrewery to locate in the former home of Lawrence Lumber on East 23rd Street.

An outfit called Lockwood Craft Brewing hopes to take over the approximately 5,000-square-foot building and the significant amount of outdoor space at 706 E. 23rd St. For those of you who don’t remember where the old Lawrence Lumber location is, you are either too new to town or have fallen off the ladder one too many times. The site is just west of 23rd and Haskell, just a couple of doors down from Lawrence Pawn and Jewelry.

Olathe resident Cory Johnston, who has a degree in milling and grain sciences but got into banking and real estate instead, has signed a deal to purchase the approximately 1.5 acre site along East 23rd Street. But first Johnston needs to win some city approvals, including rezoning the property from its current industrial category to a commercial retail category. That rezoning request has now been filed, and he’ll also have to file for a special use permit in the future.

If all goes according to plan, Johnston hopes to have the microbrewery opened sometime in late 2017. Johnston said there is significant work to do to install a 15-barrel brewing system that he plans to use for not only producing beer on site, but also producing beer to be sold in a few retail outlets in the Kansas City area.

In addition to housing he brewing equipment, the Lawrence site will have a taproom that will have four to five beers on tap at any given time. Johnston, who is in the process of hiring a master brewer, said he envisions both West Coast and East Coast IPAs, a traditional American pilsner, an American wheat beer with “some honey and botanicals,” and several speciality beers, including some that are called “sour beers.”

“I would say I’m somewhat of a traditionalist when it comes to my beer, but everything I do I want it to be done to a high quality,” Johnston said.

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The Lawrence site is large enough to allow for a couple of unique elements as well. Instead of having a kitchen inside the taproom, plans call for two pad sites that will house food trucks. Johnston envisions having several food truck operators that will serve at the establishment at various times.

Johnston said he’s also fascinated by the old three-sided storage areas that the lumberyard used to keep lumber out of the weather. He said he’s looking for a way to keep those units in place, and convert them into covered outdoor patio space.

“We could have a lot of really nice outdoor space,” Johnston said.

Johnston said he chose Lawrence for his first foray into the commercial brewing business — he’s been a home brewer for about a decade — because it is obvious that Lawrence appreciates the craft brewing industry. Plus he said the building is the right mix between industrial and commercial space on a high-traffic roadway.

The project still has several more approvals it needs before it can move forward — it will need both state and federal permits — but I’ll keep you updated as it moves along.

• I suspect this project may cause you to remember hearing something about a microbrewery in East Lawrence. Indeed, we reported in December that plans had been filed for a new brewery, restaurant and apartment building in the Warehouse Arts District in East Lawrence.

That venture is slated to be called the Lawrence Beer Company. I don’t have a full update for you on that project, but I did talk briefly with a partner in the development, and was told the venture still is moving forward. So, I’ll work to get you more information about that as well.

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