Penguin City Owners Anticipate Mid-April Soft Opening

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – With more than a dozen long-awaited brewing tanks finally coming out of “shipping limbo,” the owners of Penguin City Brewing Co. anticipate opening their new taproom in mid-April. 

Penguin City co-founders Richard Bernacki and Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki provided an update on their nearly $4 million renovation of the former Republic warehouse during Thursday’s quarterly Downtown Youngstown Partnership meeting. 

“Our tanks are finally on their way,” Lyras-Bernacki said. 

“It’s been a long time coming,” Bernacki remarked. 

The 18 tanks Penguin City ordered from overseas have been tied up in “shipping limbo” since Oct. 25, Lyras-Bernacki said. 

“There was nothing we could do. We just had to wait,” she said. Penguin City received word Wednesday that trucks were lined up to transport the tanks. Transport of the tanks should begin at the end of next week.

“We’re very excited about it,” Bernacki said. “We’ve been working really hard waiting for this moment.”

Last year, the company purchased a Deutsche Beverage Systems setup, including a 20-barrel brewhouse with four 60-barrel fermenters and two 60-barrel conditioning tanks, as well as a 3.5-barrel pilot system. Once operational, the system will more than double its capacity and allow it to further expand distribution to other Ohio markets.

Penguin City purchased the Republic building in 2019 with plans to locate their brewing operations and open a taproom, restaurant and event center there. In April 2021, the company secured a $2.2 million U.S. Small Business Administration loan with Premier Bank and Valley Partners to fund the first phase of its $3.7 million renovation project at the property.

The company broke ground on the project in August. In addition to the taproom, renovation plans include a restaurant and event center.

In February 2021, Penguin City welcomed Dope Cider House and Winery as the first tenant to lease space in the building. 

Renovation of the building is “moving along,” Bernacki said. In addition to the tanks, he is awaiting arrival of floor coating for the area where the tanks will be placed that can handle the temperatures and chemicals involved in brewing. He is looking forward to having brewing operations in one location where he will have “complete control of quality,” he said. 

“It seems like an eternity once it happens, I’m sure it will feel like it happened quickly,” he remarked. 

The Bernackis are planning a “soft opening” in mid-April to “work out the kinks” because the taproom is “a new business for us,” Lyras-Bernacki said. They will begin booking for events in the taproom in June.

“I do have an event June 4,” she added. “We’re just getting the details together and we’re going to announce that in the next few weeks.” 

They also are getting inquiries from people interested in visiting the brewery and taproom about hotel accommodations and other downtown activities, she reported. 

Pictured: In this file photo from August 2021, Penguin City co-owners Richard Bernacki and Aspasia Bernacki-Lyras, Dope Cider House & Winery owner Hannah Ferguson, and A. Neider Architecture principal Annisa Neider inside the former warehouse that will be the brewery’s new home.

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