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Marlborough wants a downtown brewpub

Marlborough wants a downtown brewpub

METRO WEST DAILY NEWS – Interested in opening a brewpub and just looking for the perfect spot? Well, the city of Marlborough wants you.

The Marlborough Economic Development Corporation is putting on a full-court press to attract a brewer to downtown, taking out an advertisement in “Beer Advocate” magazine and setting up a web page (http://marlboroughedc.com/brewpub/) to attract someone to the city.

“We like to be innovative,” said MEDC Executive Director Meredith Harris. “We want one and we really wanted to put ourselves out there and let people know we want one.”

In 2014, the city and the development corporation talked to residents and businesses about what type of businesses they’d like to see in the city. One of the ideas that kept coming up was brewpubs. Downtown zoning was changed that year that made it more flexible and allows brewpubs, Harris said.

Harris said the city has a lot to offer to a new business.

“Our location is pretty prime,” she said. “We have a large business community. We’ve added 6,000 jobs in the past five years. We’ve got a large number of people who come into the city each day, on top of the 40,000 people who live here. We have residents and employees looking for places to eat and go to.”

A brewery taproom or brewpub can add a lot to a downtown, Harris said, citing Framingham and Hudson.

Framingham is home to both Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers (and their offshoot the Springdale Barrel Room) and Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing. Both have been great fits for downtown, said Framingham Town Manager Robert Halpin.

“It clearly creates a destination that brings people downtown,” said Halpin. “It’s a great group of people who come downtown and hopefully branch out to explore other things.”

Halpin cited the example of a relative who takes the train from Boston on weekends, stops at the Depot Diner on Waverly Street for brunch, and then walks back and forth to Jack’s Abby as one business benefiting from the breweries.

“As a destination, it’s very positive to have downtown,” he said. “Things like a nice café, a brewpub, artists’ lofts, those are the kind of things communities want to attract.”

Hudson, home of Medusa Brewing Company, said the opening of the taproom, combined with other businesses like Rail Trail Flatbread, make downtown a place where people want to be, said Sarah Cressy, president and CEO of the Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s a great way to draw millennials downtown,” she said. “It also complements our downtown. A lot of our downtown businesses are in the service industries, like banks and insurance agencies. They use most of the parking during the day. They leave, and then there are parking opportunities for these businesses that have more of an evening clientele. I’ve been in this position for 30 years, and I’ve never seen downtown so healthy.”

Harris said she hopes to see something similar in Marlborough.

The development corporation said they will help work with someone who wants to open a traditional brewpub (where food is served as well as house-brewed beers) or taprooms (where only beer is served and people can bring food in), to help guide them through the process. The city has liquor licenses available and several spaces available.

She said the development council also has a loan program that could help a prospective buyer get over the hurdle of startup costs.

Since going public with their efforts to attract a brewer to Marlborough, Harris said they’ve had contact with 25 to 30 people who have expressed various levels of interest. She said two to three seem serious. She said there could be room for more than one brewpub.

“The downtown is on the brink of revitalization,′ she said. “We need that one thing to change things down there, and we think a brewpub would make it pop.”

This article by Norman Miller originally appeared here.