Stone Brewing Co. will open a brewing facility in Richmond, Virginia’s Greater Fulton community by early next year, followed by a destination restaurant on the property — an outpost of their Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens — within two years of opening the brewery. President and co-founder Steve Wagner explained in a press release that “the search for our location east of the Mississippi River was no easy endeavor” for the San Diego-based company, but that, ultimately, they “decided to begin next-step negotiations with Richmond because of their ability to meet our extensive site requirements … We also feel that Richmond’s vibrant energy and impressive craft beer culture, along with the uniqueness of the property, will allow us to create a truly memorable Stone experience for our fans.”
Stone received the city’s approval to build in December, along with $23 million to fund the first phase of the brewery. However, the Richmond City Council has held off on voting to fund the riverfront restaurant and beer garden on Wharf Street, which is estimated to cost $8 million, due at least in part to the outcry from local business owners. They claim that, by funding the restaurant, the city of Richmond is giving preferential treatment to the company at the expense of local restaurants and bars. Michelle Williams, executive chef and operating partner of the Richmond Restaurant Group, told members of the council at a hearing that she believes Stone “should have to do it on the same merits everybody else in the city has had to work so hard to get.” The council claims that they will receive the $8 million back from Stone via their lease, along with the influx of tourism to the area that the facility will bring. It’s estimated that their San Diego facility attracts approximately 600,000 visitors every year.
Stone will invest $74 million in the facility, which will include a 200,000 square-foot production brewery and distribution center; a 250 barrel brewhouse; administrative offices; retail space; and the destination restaurant. These facilities, which will eventually employ nearly 300 people, will be housed in a renovated two-story, 30,000 square-foot building. The brewing company will produce year-round and special-release beers for on-site consumption and distribution, and the bistro’s menu will showcase locally grown, organic food from the surrounding area.