BATAVIA – Only one more approval from Batavia city government was needed to allow a new brewery/taphouse to occupy a historic building in town.
“I’m very, very excited about the possibility of being in the Batavia community and bringing the Sturdy Shelter Brewery here,” owner Frank Mercadente told aldermen.
Mercadente attended the meeting to request the committee’s approval of several variances for the property at 10 S. Shumway Ave.
“There’s a couple of important things I’m asking for,” Mercadente said.
While the existing zoning permits breweries and taprooms, a building more than 50,000 square feet requires approval of a conditional use permit. Mercadente said the vast majority of the business will be taproom-oriented.
“The brewhouse will only be 1,200 square feet,” he said. “There will be no canning facility on premise.”
He said his plan calls for indoor seating for 200 taproom patrons, noting most of the building’s space will be dedicated to gathering and community building. He said his mission is to “build a treasured and genial community, one person, one conversation and one highly crafted beer at a time.”
Mercadente’s second request for a variance had to do with the addition of a deck for outdoor seating. Zoning requirements call for 14 feet of clearance over the bike trail on the river side of the building, and Mercadente was asking the city to allow 12.5 feet.
In an 11-0 vote, aldermen approved both requests unanimously. Mercadente also said he would consider adding bicycle parking on the property.
Alderman Mark Uher said he was “highly in favor” of the new business, and was excited about the prospect of a brewery and taproom in town.
Uher said he only wanted to make one suggestion – that Mercadente consider a three-season room as opposed to a completely outdoor deck. With the weather so unpredictable in the Midwest, Uher said a three-season room would be usable for a greater part of the year.
Mayor Jeff Schielke said he was old enough to remember when the building housed a movie theater.
Schielke also said there is “high suspicion” that Mark Twain wrote a love letter to his future wife at the site when he came to town Jan. 29, 1869, to give a lecture. Schielke said Twain mentions the residents of Batavia in his letter in a very favorable way.
Batavia City Administrator Laura Newman said historical signage might be available to commemorate that event – if they can confirm it.
Mercadente said not only would he be happy to display the historical signage, he also would name a beer after Twain.
Mercadente said he expects to open in the spring.