SARANAC LAKE - The village Planning Board has OK'd Mark Gillis' plan to convert the former Carcuzzi car wash building on Lake Flower Avenue into a microbrewery.
The Blue Line Brewery was approved unanimously by the board, pending the submission of a final site plan, at its meeting Wednesday night in the Harrietstown Town Hall.
Gillis, an investment banker and securities broker who moved to the village from Westchester County last year, plans to lease the 1,400-square-foot building from Carcuzzi owner Bob Bevilacqua, who sat in the audience during Wednesday's meeting.
Village of Saranac Lake Community Development Director Jeremy Evans, left, looks over plans for the Blue Line Brewery,
proposed by Mark Gillis, center, with
Board member Scott Stoddard at Wednesday night’s Planning Board meeting.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
Gillis said he's applied to the state Liquor Authority for a license that would allow him to sell his beer to local bars and restaurants, and provide complimentary tastings and sell growlers of beer to the brewery's patrons.
"What I envision is a tasting room that's open maybe Thursday to Sunday, 3 to 8 o'clock, where people come in, taste what I have and hopefully buy something to go," he said.
Gillis said he isn't planning any major changes to the exterior of the former car wash, apart from adding an entry door on the side of the building and painting it. He plans to keep the garage doors on the front and rear of the building for deliveries. At least a half-dozen parking spaces would be located next to the building.
Inside, Gillis said he plans to put up three interior walls to separate the bar and tasting area from the warehouse where he would brew his craft beer. He said he'd brew two to three times a week using a system of barrels and a large cooktop. Gillis told the Enterprise earlier this month that he's planning at least four varieties: a pale ale, an India pale ale, a lager and either a red ale or a porter.
Gillis said he'll be the business' only employee, although he talked about adding a full-time brewer and some part-time help if things progress.
"The overall goal for this facility is to prove the concept with the least amount of capital as possible," Gillis told the board. "If things take off, then I'll have to figure something out. Hopefully it turns into something big and I'm back before you here next year asking for approval for a 5,000-square-foot building and a bunch of employees."
Gillis also plans to move the office for his investment business, Hudson Valley Capital Management, to the site from its current location on Academy Street.
Planning board members raised no major concerns with the project but noted that several details weren't included or need to be clarified on its site plan, like lighting and signage. They approved the plan on the condition that Gillis submits a final site plan that includes those and other details to village Community Development Director Jeremy Evans.
Gillis said he plans to apply for a building permit and begin renovating the facility as soon as possible. He said it could be a couple of months before he gets his license and the brewery is up and running.
Board member Don Carlisto said he met someone recently who found out he was from Saranac Lake and asked if that's where Saranac-brand beer is brewed. He had to say no, as Saranac is brewed in Utica by the Matt Brewing Company.
"This is going to be really nice to say, 'No, this is not where Saranac comes from, but I'll direct you to something that is made here in Saranac Lake,'" Carlisto said.
"I was surprised it's not being done here already, but I'm hoping to change that," Gillis said.
Contact Chris Knight at 891-2600 ext. 24 or firstname.lastname@example.org.