After four years brewing beer in Seattle, Justin Boswell moved home to Louisiana to open a brewery. For the past year, he's been working on lining up financing and acquiring a brewery space for Wayward Owl Brewing (www.waywardowlbrewing.com).
Following the passage of the updated Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance by the New Orleans City Council earlier this month, Boswell announced he acquired the location of the former Gem Theater at 3940 Thalia St. in Central City.
"The amendment ... allows breweries like ours — producing less than 12,500 barrels per year — to be permitted in commercial spaces like this one [without additional permitting]," Boswell said.
The plans for the space include brewing beer, a tasting room and interaction with the surrounding community.
"We plan on having a very nice-sized tasting room with the potential of an outdoor beer garden, a functional stage, and, if we're allowed, a pop-up neighborhood movie theater so that those living close to us can benefit not only from the beer being produced but a resurrection of something that served that community so well for so long," Boswell said.
Boswell expects the 15-barrel brewery to open in six or seven months.
"It will take us a while and I'm positive there will be bumps along the way," he said, "but we couldn't be more excited to start serving our community and create awesome local manufacturing jobs in a city that we believe should be known once again as the brewing capital of the South."
Wayward Owl will be the city's fourth brewery, joining NOLA Brewing, which began brewing in 2009, The Courtyard Brewery, which opened last year, and Second Line Brewing, which is expected to open soon. — NORA McGUNNIGLE