Local craft brewer Kichesippi Beer Co. to open permanent location, 187 Kich, on Sparks St.

Paul Meek Kitchesippi beer wine
Paul Meek is the owner of Ottawa's Kichesippi Beer Co. File photo

After operating a successful holiday pop-up shop that has continued to do business during the three weekends of Winterlude, local craft brewer Kichesippi Beer Co. is betting on Sparks Street, with plans for a new bar and bottle shop set to open next month. 

The Ottawa-based brewery opened a holiday pop-up shop in December at 187 Sparks St., an 1,100-square-foot space in one of the street’s many historic buildings. The temporary store, which owner Paul Meek calls “a farmers’ market with a door,” operated from Nov. 28 to Dec. 23. It offered Kichessippi’s own brews, as well as a selection of beers, wines and other products from Ontario companies, including local favourites Saunders Cider and Dunrobin Distilleries. 

“The industry continues to change and evolve a lot,” said Meek of the decision to explore expansion downtown. “We’ve been brewing in Ottawa for 14 years in the west end and customers say, ‘Hey, we love the beer, but we don’t get out there much. If you were downtown, we’d love to support you more.’ So we thought, let’s look into this, see if it makes sense for us.”

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According to Meek, the holiday pop-up was a success. The company decided to stay in the space on Sparks Street for Winterlude, Friday to Sunday, as well as on Family Day, for all three weekends of the festival. 

And now renovations are underway to open a permanent location in the same space sometime in March. 

“The atmosphere has been really great,” said Meek. “We’d all like it to be a little colder, a little more white, fluffy snow, but if you want to get a dose of Winterlude, Sparks (Street) is the place to go. Lots of sculptures, activities and buskers. Whether it’s to come out with the kids or enjoy the beautiful lit-up streets at night, there’s lots of great stuff happening.”

During the week, work to convert the space into a 20-seat bar and bottle shop, under the name 187 Kich, continues. 

“If you’ve been to our Bells Corners location, it’s a 20-seat version of that,” Meek said. “Beer by the glass, wine, ciders, some non-alcoholic options, and a small plates food menu. There’s no LCBO close by in that part of downtown, so we want to create our own little version of a bottle shop.”

In recent years, concerns have been raised about empty storefronts and reduced foot traffic along Spark Street. But Meek said he’s optimistic that the area will see a resurgence. 

“We’ve heard that same thing, that nothing’s happening on Sparks Street so no one’s going,” he said. “Let’s just blow that whole thing up. There’s lots of stuff happening, lots of lovely restaurants and shops and salons. Let’s be a nice little addition to this street and hopefully create a wave of new stuff coming in.”

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