Brewery with taproom coming to downtown Batavia

  • The future location for Sturdy Shelter Brewing at 10 S. Shumway Ave. in Batavia.

    The future location for Sturdy Shelter Brewing at 10 S. Shumway Ave. in Batavia. Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

Updated 10/5/2021 6:54 PM

A plan to open a small brewery in downtown Batavia, with a taproom that could accommodate 200 people, received unanimous approval from the Batavia City Council on Monday night.

Sturdy Shelter Brewing received a conditional-use permit to open in a 141-year-old building at 10 S. Shumway Ave.


Owner Frank Mercadente intends to open the brewery by spring.

Mercadente told the council the brewery would have a 10-barrel brewing system and produce about 500 barrels of beer in its first year of operation.

He intends to brew lagers, stouts and India pale ales. "You can't have a brewery without IPAs," Mercadente joked.

Sturdy Shelter will have a deck, where patrons can enjoy a view of the nearby Fox River.

According to its application, the brewery's name comes from a verse in the Book of Sirach in the Catholic Bible: "Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter: whoever finds one has found a treasure."

Mercadente was formerly a youth minister for St. John Neumann Catholic Church in St. Charles. He owns Cultivation Ministries, which provides training for running Catholic Church youth ministries.

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Mayor Jeff Schielke said the building, initially called the Batavia Opera House, was a movie theater for a long time. Older Batavia residents recall attending Saturday matinees there, he said.

When he was writing a book about the history of Batavia, Schielke was unable to find out what the last movie shown there was.

But Monday night, he said a resident sent him proof: it was "Bad Day at Black Rock," the 1955 thriller starring Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan.

The building has also housed a roller rink, storage and several other businesses.

It fell into such disrepair that in 2008, the city council approved a new owner's request for a demolition permit. But that owner, the Kluber and Associates architectural firm, decided to rehabilitate the building with the help of a $319,000 grant from the city.

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