LORAIN — Three years after Fred Lozano and Chris Kambouris decided to open the first brewery Lorain has seen in more than 100 years, the dream has become a full-fledged reality.
Earlier this week, the joint venture that is Bascule Brewery and Public House received its occupancy permit from the city, allowing them to have 60 customers in the taproom at Colorado Avenue and Henderson Drive.
“It’s definitely a dream come true,” Kambouris said. “We’ve been chugging along for three years on a shoestring budget trying to get it going and now it’s like we’ve hit one of the bigger hurdles.”
Kambouris, a Youngstown native, said another big obstacle for the duo was receiving a manufacturing permit from the state, which they got last summer.
“It was a huge boost for us to be able to generate our own revenue and to not have to just rely on our supporters and donations,” he said.
Since getting the manufacturing permit, Bascule Brewery has drawn inspiration from the area to create brew favorites such as Charleston Common, named after Lorain’s founding as Charleston Village.
It features German and English flavors, not dissimilar to some of Lorain’s early settlers.
The brewery itself is named after one of Lorain’s most recognizable structures — the Charles Berry Bridge, the second-largest bascule in the country. Kambouris and Lozano, who live in Lorain, are using “Raise the bridge” as a calling card for fans and to serve as an homage to the bridge.
Throughout the taproom, which was mostly a construction zone a year ago, pieces of Kambouris’ roots are evident, such as the tiles mounted as the top of the newly constructed bar.
“These are actually from the church I grew up attending in Youngstown,” he said. “I say that everyone in my family who has ever been married or buried has walked on these tiles, so for them to be here now is really special.”
Kambouris said it plays into the style of the taproom itself with many of the chairs and tables mismatched because they were donated by family, friends and community members.
“It definitely feels eclectic, and because it’s a public house we want it to feel like an extension of your living room,” he said.
One wall of the taproom also features panels of wood, created at Lorain County Community College, with the names of those who have supported and donated to the brewery as the owners attempted to get it off the ground.
Kambouris said there are a few things they need to change before they can have a grand opening and extend their hours sometime in the fall, such as the addition of emergency exit signs and switching out some of the outlets.
But for now, they’re filling growlers 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 to 9 p.m. Friday and 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday.
People also can find Bascule Brewery’s craft beers at Brewfest this weekend in downtown Lorain.
“We’re super excited to be going into our second Brewfest,” Kambouris said. “They had three before we were able to join in and it was sort of a bummer to be continually missing them, but now that we’re finally in, it’s a great accomplishment.
“It shows we’re not just spinning our wheels and we’re making progress that’s paying off.”
Kambouris said the entire experience, which he wants to feel organic to Lorain and not as if he’s an implant, feels like a dream or “hitting the lottery.”
“And I don’t mean that from a money perspective, but I truly feel blessed to finally get to realize this dream,” he said. It’s been a hard road of us doing this with just our two hands, but I would rather do it like this any day than being given a million dollars and told to open a brewery.”