USA, LA: Cane River Brewing Co. nearly done with its facility in Natchitoches
Natchitoches natives Justin Krouse and Cade Gentry may never open the restaurant they dreamed up years ago, but they're poised to bring something much more exciting to their hometown, the Alexandria Town Talk reported on October 19.
Cane River Brewing Co., founded by longtime friends Krouse and Gentry, is nearly done with its facility on Mill Street.
The brewery's taproom, they hope, will be open in a few weeks. From there, Krouse and Gentry plan to distribute their beer throughout Central and North Louisiana.
"It's a really good feeling," Krouse said. "It's been so long since this process started."
"It just seemed like a far off concept then." Gentry said. "I'm glad it took us this long, because we learned so much through this process."
Krouse and Gentry have been planning the brewery for about five years. Before that, they were focused on opening a restaurant someday, perhaps modeled on a concept they created for a hospitality management class in college.
"I was managing a restaurant after college, and people would come in and ask what the local beer was," Krouse said. "They were shocked to hear there was no local brewery."
Central Louisiana was slow to capitalize on the craft brewing explosion, but the area has made some inroads recently, with breweries opening in Alexandria and Marksville.
Cane River Brewing Co. is the latest.
The brewery will start with four core beers a pilsner, an India pale ale, an American pale ale and a porter.
It will also offer four seasonal beers per year, as well as limited releases only available in the taproom.
The company's facility which will include the brewing equipment, a spacious taproom and eventually an outdoor patio/beer garden area is a former cotton gin building from the 1920s. The renovation is nearly complete.
There was some controversy over the city allowing that property to be used for the venture, with some nearby residents concerned about potential noise. Krouse and Gentry said those concerns were due to a misunderstanding of what the taproom is and what it isn't.
It isn't a nightclub or a bar with loud music blaring (the taproom will close by 9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and by 5 p.m. on Sunday most of the year; it will likely be open on other days during peak tourist season).
It will be place where people can enjoy different beers, watch sports on TV, even bring their kids.
Soothing community concerns wasn't the only hurdle Krouse and Gentry faced.
It wasn't easy convincing investors to buy in when there really were no breweries in the area, and the principals were so young (Krouse is 30; Gentry is 31).
But they persevered, bolstered by their belief that a brewery would work in Natchitoches, one of the biggest tourist draws in the state.
"That's one of our biggest target markets," Krouse said. "Us being in the restaurant industry, we know how important tourism is to Natchitoches."
"Hopefully, this gives people another reason to come to town," Gentry said.
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