Penguin City Secures $2.2M Loan for $3.7M Project

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Penguin City Brewing Co. expects to begin work by the end of May on renovating the former Republic warehouse downtown.

Penguin City will move forward next week on soliciting bids to begin construction in anticipation of a fall 2021 opening of its new space, says co-owner Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki. The company closed Thursday on a $2.2 million U.S. Small Business Administration loan with Premier Bank and Valley Partners, according to a news release. 

Penguin City purchased the warehouse in December for $575,000. The company worked with Terry Louk, SBA lending director at Valley Partners, and Dave Howard, vice president and commercial relationship manager at Premier Bank, to assemble the loan package.

“Premier Bank is thrilled to partner with Penguin City and we look forward to assisting their company to grow,” says Howard.  

“This is huge for us at Penguin City; to be able to invest in our city, be a part of creating a new corridor, and make a change in the landscape of our downtown is overwhelming and emotional and it’s what we wanted to do from day one,” Lyras-Bernacki says. “We hope this sets an example, and other businesses start to follow suit and bring their ventures here to our great city.” 

The loan funds will finance the first phase of Penguin City’s planned $3.7 million renovation of the warehouse at 460 E. Federal St.

That phase will include a 10,000-square-foot taproom, 20-barrel brew house from Deutsche Beverage Technology, Charlotte, N.C., with four 60-barrel fermenters, two 60-barrel brite tanks, and a 3.5-barrel pilot system with four 3.5-barrel fermenters, according to Penguin City. Costs for the brewery equipment will total $550,000.  

“I’m really excited to brew on a beautiful, well-thought-out system customized specifically for Penguin City Brewing products,” says co-owner Richard Bernacki. “We’ll be able brew more consistently and efficiently, get a higher volume of beer out and introduce new products to current and new markets.”

Penguin City recently expanded distribution into Pennsylvania and is preparing to hopefully expand into West Virginia this summer, Lyras-Bernacki says. 

“We’re also going to be talking with distributors in the state of Ohio about how to expand in our state,” she adds.

The first phase of the renovation project will involve remodeling 5,000 square feet of office space as Penguin City’s headquarters. Another 1,000 square feet space will be renovated into a small production and taproom for DOPE Cider House & Winery, operated by Hannah Ferguson. 

Penguin City is working with architect Annissa Neider of A Neider Architecture. Murphy Contracting Co. is the general contractor. 

“The design team is working tirelessly to create a unique space that Youngstown has never experienced before,” Neider says.

Penguin City engaged Kristen Olmi of KO Consulting to seek grants to fund the additional phases, which will include the new event center and restaurant. 

“We’re hoping to start that in 2022,” Lyras-Bernacki says. 

Pictured at top: Penguin City Brewing Co-owner Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki outside of Premier Bank in downtown Youngstown.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.