Clearwater Beach may get its first craft beer pub

Brewing establishment could replace surf shop as new Mandalay Avenue building is proposed.
CLEARWATER — There’s a storm brewing across the nation. Not like the recent winter storms Cleon, Dion, Hercules or Ion. Instead, it’s the fermenting of a growing passion for specialty ales, the Cadillac of beers.
Last week the city’s Development Review Committee reviewed an application to establish the first onsite craft beer brewery on Clearwater Beach.
Paul O’Renick of Clearwater Beach Brewing Company wants to open the brewery and restaurant. And Richard McKenna, president of the Mandalay Building Partnership that owns a retail store on the southeast corner of Mandalay Avenue and Baymont Street, wants to construct a new building for the venture.
Currently, the 64-year-old building at 499 Mandalay Ave. is the location of the Mandalay Surf Company, a one-stop shop for boarders established in 1979. The store sells surfboards, skimboards, skateboards and beach apparel. The building is adjacent to the north side of Pelican Walk Plaza, which contains the Jolley Trolley’s headquarters, restaurants, retail shops, a salon and spa, and other businesses.
According to the application, Mandalay Building Partnership is seeking city approval to demolish the existing structure to make way for a 3,900-square-foot, two-story building, which by city standards is 75 percent of the building capacity for the .12 acre lot in the restaurant and retail district zone. The total value of the project upon completion is estimated at $2.5 million.
Clearwater Beach Brewing Company, managed by O’Renick of Tampa, according to a profile from the Florida Department of State, will sell five items, the application states: brewed beer, wine, non- alcoholic beverages, food and merchandise.
O’Renick and McKenna couldn’t be reached to comment on this story.
The proposed restaurant design features a first-floor area where patrons may watch the brewing process. The equipment also would be visible from the outdoor sidewalk through the building’s large windows. The second floor houses a standard dining area, bar and kitchen. The rooftop would offer outdoor dining and a bar.
Like many establishments along Mandalay, this one expects to capture pedestrian traffic — tourists and neighboring residents.
The proposed project will require the upgrade of sidewalks along Baymont Street on the north side of the building. Based on a draft schematic, angle parking on the north side would be replaced with parallel parking.
City awaits more information
Because the brewing company’s application is for a level 1 flexible standard development, a review by the Community Development Board isn’t required, according to city planner Mark Parry. Instead, the city’s community development coordinator will make a decision within 20 days of the development committee’s review last Thursday to determine whether the application complies with city development codes.
Based on last week’s city staff review, the request was returned to the applicant for clarification on a few items including how many new jobs the restaurant will create and where employees will park.
The city’s review also specified mandated compliances with city and state regulations such as fire prevention provisions, including installation of a fire sprinkler and alarm system; traffic impact considerations; proper signage and outdoor lighting; and stormwater treatment as required by the Southwest Florida Water Management District and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Parry said the DRC will review the revisions “as soon as the applicant resubmits everything and responds to all DRC comments in writing. We keep in contact with the applicant and generally expect resubmissions within a week or two.”
The DRC review is a prerequisite to the building permit review process, which will further delve into city and state code compliance.
Craft beers fetch top dollar
Craft brews have gained such an intense following, according to the Associated Press, that a black market is booming in which opportunists demand hundreds of dollars for top-rated beers that are in short supply, difficult to obtain, expensive or illegal to ship.
In Vermont, a Burlington woman was charged recently with selling five cases of the popular Heady Topper beer for $825 on Craigslist. The hoppy concoction, which retails for $3 a can and $72 a case, recently was ranked No. 1 by Beer Advocate magazine out of the top 250 beers in the world.
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