SPRINGFIELD, Ore. - New business is fermenting in downtown Springfield, in more ways than one.
It's going to be a new brew pub and restaurant on Main Street, and the owner said it's no gamble.
City permits are pending for the new Plank Town Brewing Company.
For many years, the downtown Springfield bar scene was nothing to brag about. Now, a Eugene brew-pub owner is ready to try his luck across the freeway, and he said this will be different.
It's a long way from Springfield to East Grand Forks, Minnesota--but brew pub owner Bart Caridio is about to connect the dots.
"Famous bar there from the prohibition era...Whitey's Wonderbar," says Caridio.
That's a place near his old North Dakota college campus. Caridio plans to build his Whitey's at a former Springfield institution, Ruthie B's.
"This place just, yeah, captivated me," explained Caridio.
Caridio is co-owner of Sam Bond's Garage in Eugene and the Axe & Fiddle pub in Cottage Grove. He thinks the market is right in Springfield for Plank Town Brewery Company.
Caridio told KVAL News, "I believe it's right in here we are planning on the fermentors," he explained during a tour of the former tea shop.
Caridio said the space is perfect for micro-brew making, seating for 100 and room for music making. However, for success to come to a "head", it will cost money.
"I'll just say it's going to be between a quarter-million and a half-million, somewhere in that range," said Caridio.
Vacant buildings, empty store-fronts -- sights you just don't want to see if you're trying to revitalize your main street, downtown. That's why city hall officials have high hopes this new venture can be a difference maker in Springfield. Managers of other businesses point to surveys that show people want downtown to reach the next level.
City Community Relations Coordinator, Niel Laudati, said residents, "Want to see this type
of business downtown and that's what's moving in and we think it's fantastic."
Caridio added, "In the next half year, downtown will be transformed."
If quick approval comes from the city on the pending permits, step one of that transformation can begin late this month. Caridio thinks he can have Plank Town open by late summer.
Actual beer making may be delayed until mid-to-late fall because (Caridio said) the OLCC permit process takes a little longer.