YOUNGSTOWN – Penguin City Brewing Co. capped a challenging 2020 with the purchase of the former Republic Warehouse in downtown Youngstown, setting the stage for growth this year.
The brewery paid $575,000 Dec. 14 to buy the 32,704-square-foot warehouse. A $3.7 million renovation will be funded through loans and grants, says co-owner Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki.
Phase 1 of the renovation will open this summer and include Penguin City’s full production line and a taproom. Phase 2 will include a restaurant and event center, Lyras-Bernacki says.
During 2020, the company lost more than half of its sales because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was like a light switch just turned off,” she says. “A huge part of our industry relies on the bars and restaurants. We all need each other to survive. When they got hit, we got hit. So, until the restrictions are completely lifted, we will not be completely back to normal.”
The federal Paycheck Protection Program and grants from the state and Valley Economic Development Partners helped the company get by, Lyras-Bernacki says.
Most of its workforce was laid off and the company operated “with a skeleton crew,” she says. When the brewery opens, Penguin City will hire 19 for manufacturing, distribution, sales and promotion and taproom staff. It currently employs nine.
“We are projected to be at 40-plus employees in three years,” she says.