Stay for a drink: Kichesippi Beer to open on-site pub at new Bells Corners location

Paul meek
Paul meek

After more than eight years at its west-end location, local craft brewing pioneer Kichesippi Beer Co. will soon be on the move.

Kichesippi announced this week it is vacating its original home at 866 Campbell Ave. and heading farther west to 2265 Robertson Rd., where it plans to open a new brewing facility and tap room with between 80 and 100 seats next spring.

Kichesippi co-owner Paul Meek says the 10,000-square-foot former Volkswagen dealership provides space for the brewery to grow in a “higher-traffic” area that’s just a few kilometres from the new home of the Department of National Defence, a planned hotel and other car dealers that draw plenty of customers.

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A recent study conducted by the city showed that 24,000 people drive past the building every day, Meek said.

“If I can get one per cent of them stopping in, we’re going to have a good business,” he said.

Founded in early 2010, Kichesippi was among Ottawa’s first craft breweries. Since then, the company has built a loyal following and now sells about 600,000 litres of suds annually at local bars and restaurants, the Beer Store and the LCBO.

But its current 7,500-square-foot facility has no room for a pub on-site. Meek said that’s limited his company’s ability to tap into the lucrative tourist and after-work crowds.

“I think we’ve been successful despite our location,” Meek said, noting his aim has always been to become the “Alexander Keith’s of Ottawa” – a reference to the famed East Coast beer-maker whose Halifax brewery and bar have become go-to destinations for thirsty visitors.

“We just haven’t been able to accomplish that goal at our current location,” he explained, adding 95 per cent of his inventory goes out the “back door” to other vendors such as the Beer Store and LCBO.

The new building has a five-year lease with an option for an additional five, Meek said. He’s set to hire several more employees to add to the brewery’s current headcount of 21 and said if all goes well, he expects to boost beer production by up to 200,000 litres a year.

Although the new location is 20 kilometres from tourist hubs such as Parliament Hill and the ByWard Market, Meek said its pluses more than make up for its distance from downtown.

“I’ve got lots of parking, lots of cars driving by. I have a bus stop literally at my front door,” he noted.

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