Brewery with taproom coming to downtown Batavia
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.
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.