Dream venture begins in Richmond St
WALK past 7-11 Richmond St in the Portland CBD, and you might be forgiven for thinking it was time it was cleaned up and something done with what is a prime site.
Well, that is exactly what is happening inside, as a Portland couple start on their dream of bringing a unique venture to the city.
Abby Taylor and Jono Williamson are establishing Portland Brewing Co on the former site used by builder B.F. England as an office and storage space.
The venture has been about a year in the making, and still has some way to go, but jumped its first hurdle late last year when a planning permit was obtained from Glenelg Shire Council.
The couple took possession of the building in December, following the granting of the permit, and have been working on renovating it, cleaning up the premises and replacing the roof.
When fully set up, it will involve a bar/café, microbrewery and a large outdoor social area/beer garden and have a capacity for 150 people.
The designs and plans are still being finalised.
“The preliminary work’s been done, the rest of it takes a bit more consideration,” Ms Taylor said.
Ms Taylor and Mr Williamson have already given part of the venue a dry run, if you’ll pardon the pun, recently hosting their wedding there, and getting a few tips on how future customers might use the site.
So why get into the hospitality business?
It more than scratched an urge for Ms Taylor, who stepped back from full-time teaching a year ago to work on the project, and Mr Williamson, an electrician at Portland Aluminium.
“We’ve really wanted to do something in Portland for a while, we love it here,” Ms Taylor said.
“We share a lot of food and beer and meet a lot of people and this is a great opportunity in Portland. We thought we’d give it a go.
“Although it’s new for us, we’ll give it our best and hope for the best.”
Mr Williamson said it built on Portland’s craft brewing culture and also offered a chance to showcase a brewing system he built several years ago.
“I built a small 150-litre automated brewery system just for my own use and continued to improve that,” he said.
“Then we decided we could do something with it and go bigger.
“Together we’ve kind of pursued a dream to turn that into something more commercial and professional.”
Mr Williamson said the venue would hopefully turn into a destination in its own right for a wider market.
The food side of the business is also under careful development, with the aim being food that goes with the beer.
However, it won’t just be about the amber liquid, with local wines and coffee also to be available.
“We have to provide for people that will be driving and people that don’t necessarily drink beer,” Ms Taylor said.
The project will be done in stages.
“We’d hope by the end of this year we’ll be doing some pop-up events,” Ms Taylor said.
“Our goal is to do it as quickly as possible but things take time. We are committed to it.
“We’ve had overwhelming support from people which has been great, we really appreciate it.”