Aviator Brewing Company announced a $4.065 million expansion Monday that will move its brewery closer to Fuquay-Varina’s downtown and create what its owner calls “a beer entertainment complex.”
Adding a concert stage, quick food service and a distilling operation is a big move for the brewery, which already has seen significant growth since it was founded in 2008. The company does nearly $4 million in sales, according to the Town of Fuquay-Varina.
“Moving the brewery creates our own entertainment complex, because as the market matures and ages we’ve seen beer production collapse,” Aviator CEO Mark Doble said. “That’s what we wanted to build a destination and not be pure production.”
Aviator will build a 36,000-square-foot brewhouse on North Street, about a block from the company’s other restaurants and shop. The new building will resemble an old airplane hangar as a callback to the company’s roots. Aviator was founded in a hangar, and over the past decade has increased production, built a taproom, a restaurant and a bottle shop and has been one of the greatest driving forces of the growth in Fuquay’s downtown.
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The company will tear down a 109,000-square-foot Gold Leaf tobacco warehouse it bought two years ago for about $500,000. The expansion will have four bars as well as new brewing equipment and a barrel program. The company’s distilling operation, Gold Leaf Distilling, will also make its home in the new Aviator campus.
The project is expected to be complete by spring 2019.
Doble couldn’t say how much more beer Aviator will produce with the expansion, but said it will intentionally remain below North Carolina’s 25,000 barrel limit for self distribution. Mass production, Doble said, could be a thing of the past for craft breweries in North Carolina and beyond, instead focusing on local sales and bringing beer drinkers to the brewery.
The expansion will add 75 new full and part-time jobs with the town contributing another $203,250 in incentive funds. The town’s contribution will be paid after the capital expenditures have been completed, the town said.
Aviator currently brews in a 22,000-square-foot building between Fuquay-Varina and Holly Springs. Doble said the current building will be used to expand the company’s catering business.
Downtown, Doble said Aviator would move its existing bottle shop to a space next door to make way for a new pizza restaurant and also add food to the current tap house, making it more of a gastropub.
“I would like to thank the Fuquay-Varina Town Board for believing in the long-term success we have planned for Aviator Brewing Company,” Doble said in a news release. “We started our business in an airplane hangar nearly 10 years ago, and now we have grown to become one of the top craft breweries in the U.S.”
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson