Micro-Brewery planned for Lexington’s (KY) Northside

What do you do with a building near downtown in disrepair? Here’s one brew related idea- The Professor

Written by Jeff Beach for bizlex.com

L-R: West Sixth Brewing Co. partners Joe Kuosman, Robin Sither, Ben Self and Brady Barlow
Lexington, Ky. – Four partners are turning a former bread factory on Lexington’s north side into a craft brewery, with the goal of surrounding it with other community-minded organizations and businesses.

The West Sixth Brewing Co. has purchased what will be The Bread Box, the mixed-used development in the former Rainbo Bread factory at the corner of Sixth Street and Jefferson Street.

The craft brewery will anchor the 90,000 square-foot development, which has three tenants already lined up:

◦ Cricket Press, which designs and prints posters and other products. Much of its work is for music events and arts shows.

◦ Food Chain, a new non-profit focusing on urban farming. It will grow greens and tilapia fish in The Bread Box as part of a “vertical farm.”

◦ The Broke Spoke Community Bike Shop, a non-profit bike repair organization. It will be able to take advantage of the Legacy Trail, which when extended, will run across the back of The Bread Box property. Broke Spoke will use 2,500 square feet of the building.

The brewing company will begin producing beer in the spring. While they are still in product development, founding partner Ben Self said there will be “more than a handful” of high-quality hand-crafted beer varieties from the brewery which also will have a tasting room.

Self was a founder of Blue State Digital, which played an instrumental role in Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign. But Self, who has since left the company, said it also was involved in marketing for a beer industry client and describes himself as “an avid home-brewer.”

He is partnering with Robin Sither, who brings with him 10 years of brewing experience at Alltech’s Kentucky Ale brewery; Brady Barlow, who majored in food science at the University of Kentucky and has a professional background in sales; and Joe Kuosman, whose background is operations management and manufacturing.

“We do have varied backgrounds, but we have the same vision and the same passion,” Kuosman said.

The partners have a passion for craft beers and helping the community.

They envision filling the vast two-story building with “organizations and groups that will be of service to the community,” Self said, and a “positive addition to the neighborhood.”

That neighborhood includes a historic district just north of the Transylvania University campus and not far from the new Bluegrass Community and Technical College campus.

Sixth Street Brewing also has pledged to contribute at least 6 percent of its net profits back to community organizations.

The partners paid $550,000 for the building, which operated as a bakery until the mid-90s and was later used for record storage. The oldest part of the building was built in the 1890s.

The partners see huge potential for the number and variety of potential tenants. While West Sixth Brewing does not have plans for a restaurant, the development has the potential for restaurant tenants, including possible roof-top dining space.

Plans call for putting windows back into the many window spaces on the building that have been bricked over and creating a multi-media mural on the side of the building facing Bel Air Street.

EOP Architects of Lexington did the initial overall plans and the partners are working with Dudley Ives of Studio Ives Architecture on detailed plans as the space fills up with tenants. Traditional Bank is helping finance the project.

Self said the partners made sure they had the support of the neighborhood before moving forward with the purchase of the building.

“A dream scenario is for all the industrial property – especially the vacant – to become filled with human use industries,” said Seth Brewer, president of the Northside Neighborhood Association. “We want people walking around, conducting business and making a living in the Northside.”