Main Street Grille and Brewery has new owner; will re-open as Garrett’s Mill & Brewing Company
Garrettsville, OH – On July 3rd of 2016, my family and I headed to small town Hiram to see their fireworks display. On the way we wanted to stop and get some food and something to drink. I was excited because my wife suggested Main Street Brewery in Garrettsville, and although I had sampled some of their Main Street Joe coffee Porter and their 35 Oatmeal Stout, I was largely in the dark on the rest of their portfolio. A few days earlier they had posted on their Facebook page about the release of their newest beer, a blood orange cream ale that sounded like it would be perfect for a hot summer day. As we rolled into downtown Garrettsville, I expected to see the sidewalk patio filled with people who had the same thought I had, but instead I found an eerily silent scene. I parked on the street, leaving my wife and two little girls inside and walked across the street to the front door to find a sad note.The brewery had suddenly and unexpectedly closed just two days earlier. The Facebook page hadn’t even been updated with this note. We were forced to move on. So was the rest of Garrettsville, as it turned out.
Owners Pete and Peggy Kepich, as we would come to find out months later, made the gut-wrenching decision to close when it was discovered that Peggy was battling cancer. The reason wasn’t disclosed in the farewell note, they simply said they had made the decision to take more time for their family. It’s now much more widely known throughout the community about Mrs. Kepich’s illness, so I’m not disclosing anything new here that wasn’t already on the street.
The Kepich’s, who also own a Ford dealership in town, had the Main Street facility paid off already and decided to hold onto it until the right buyer could be found. A source we interviewed for this story, a former employee, stated that Mr. Kepich was adamant that if he sold the building and the business, it would have to re-open as a restaurant, and preferably a brewery as well. That source contacted us directly months ago and indicated a potential buyer had been found, but Kepich declined to sell once he found out they wanted to turn it into office space. The right buyer was eventually found.
That buyer ended up being Brian Buchanan, of Mercer, PA, and it will indeed reopen as a restaurant, with several sources (both former Main Street employees who have been re-hired) this week confirming the restaurant will reopen by the end of December. It was hoped it would be open this Wednesday, but some paperwork delays have pushed it back, at least temporarily. We also confirmed that it will not only once again open as a restaurant, but also as a brewery, and the brewery will honor its past life while looking forward to the future. In fact, the brewer himself is a former employee.
Brian Koptis is the former apprentice of Main Street Brewmaster Mikey Mallone. Mallone was instantly offered several jobs in the industry days after the Main Street closure announcement was made. Ultimately he made the decision to join one of the first Brewers at Main Street, Joseph Kearns, overseas at White Hag Irish Brewing Co. in Sligo, Ireland, who Mallone himself apprenticed under in 2012 before taking over full time Brewmaster duties in 2013. We reached out to Koptis to find out some more information regarding the beer line up and to get answers to other questions on our mind.
NEOCBN: As I understand it you are good friends with the previous brewer Mikey Mallone and apprenticed under him before Main Street closed? Can you tell us more about the vision for Garrett’s Mill & Brewing Company?
KOPTIS: I’m not exactly sure what the plan is for the restaurant side of things, but we are slowly resuming brewery operations and working towards building up the portfolio of beers. Yes, I apprenticed under Mikey Mallone while he was the brewmaster, and under Joseph Kearns before him. Mikey and I got into brewing together a year or two before he started professionally.
NEOCBN: Are you starting with all new recipes or will you be reviving anything from the Main Street portfolio, and if so, which brews?
KOPTIS: We are going to reuse most of the Main Street portfolio of beers and continue to build our own recipes along the way. We are starting off with the Garret’s Gold Kolsch and going to move on to the IPA to try and revive a large part of the old customer base and boost business early on.
NEOCBN: Do you know anything about the timeline? Will house brewed beer be available as soon as you guys re-open? Or are there licensing hurdles that need to be cleared first? Wasn’t sure if new TTB apps with Feds and A1C licensing with state needed to be filed and approved before you could start brewing on premise.
KOPTIS: Brian Buchanan, the owner, has been working with the TTB to get all of the old licensing transferred over or however that works exactly, I haven’t had much at all to do with the paperwork or legal end of it. House brewed beer is hopefully going to be available when we open, however opening just got pushed back since I believe they lost the occupancy permit.
NEOCBN: How many beers do you ultimately plan on having once you are ramped up to capacity and what styles do you anticipate?
KOPTIS: Ultimately, we plan on refilling all 8 taps with the typical styles; porter, stout, Irish red, IPA, a Belgian Wit, etc., along with seasonal variants and 1-off experimental batches. We do plan on trying to find more locally sourced ingredients such as local fresh hops, maple syrup, honey, and those sorts of items.
Garrett’s Mill and Brewing Company does not have a Facebook page or website at this time. They hope to open before Christmas.