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New Brewery At Freedman's Site In Belmar Ready To Go

The Freedman’s Bakery site at 8th Avenue and Main Street in Belmar will soon be producing a new product: Beer.

The East Coast Beer Company, makers of Beach Haus beer, is under contract to purchase the building where Freedman’s has long stood.

Belmar’s Planning Board granted the beer company the final site plan approval and the change-of-use variance it needed to convert the high-profile former Freedman’s Bakery building into a fully functioning brewery that will also feature tours, beer tastings and a retail component, according to NJ.com.

Members of the company addressed the Borough Council during its workshop session Wednesday to explain their intention to convert the Main Street bakery into a microbrewery, complete with a storefront to sell small amounts of their line of four Jersey Shore-themed beers, according to NJ.com

There may even be a Belmar-themed brew in the offing, officials said.

“I think it’s going to be great,” Belmar Mayor Matt Doherty said. “This is going to be a much improved building. We’re making a lot of improvements to Main Street while we’re still recovering from Sandy.’’

John Merklin, of Brick Township, one of the founders of the company, said he chose the Freedman’s site because of its ease of conversion, proximity to a major highway – Route 35 – and its location in Belmar.

“There’s a strong argument to be made that (Belmar) is the artery of the Jersey Shore,’’ Merklin said. “I’m one of those folks who would make that argument.’’

The company, founded in 2007, started selling beer in 2010 only in Monmouth and Ocean counties. It now distributes beer throughout the state and five other Eastern states: North and South Carolina, Conneticuit, Pennsylvania and New York, Merklin said.

The company does not currently have its own brewing operation. It owns the recipes for its beers and rents space in established breweries to make its beers. The purchase of the Freedman’s site will give the company a permanent home.

Merklin said converting the bakery into a brewery was a simple conversion.

“The process of making beer and making bread or making bakery items is very, very similar,’’ Merklin said. “It’s the least intrusive location we could find.’’

The new brewery would not be a new bar, however. It will mainly be a wholesale operation brewing beer for distribution. Tours can be arranged with a small tasting at the conclusion of the tour, Merklin said.

And although there will be a small storefront where customers could buy a small amounts of beer to go, it is not a place to walk in, sit down and drink beer.

“It’s not going to be a brew pub,’’ Merklin said.

The brewery is buying the whole building, including the storefront of the barber shop and the antique store. Upon closing of the deal, the company plans to encorporate both of those storefronts into the brewery plans, Brudner said.

The company intends to begin renovating the bakery immediately upon closing the deal. No solid date was set Wednesday.

“We’re going to be a destination for people,’’ Merklin said. “It’s going to be an attraction.’’

Joy DeSanctis March 31, 2014 at 09:20 AM
so it's a factory.
chris March 31, 2014 at 11:55 AM
my kids have been going to pat;s the barber over the years. will he still be there?
BarbaraNJ March 31, 2014 at 01:09 PM
I believe Pat's and the home goods/home made housewares place next to Pat's have already moved out. They both had signs in the window.
Dame Bridgid April 01, 2014 at 12:58 PM
Ready to go? Not hardly! I drove past this week & the whole back lot is now a huge construction pit...Looks like they are digging extensive new foundations! Clearly this factory is going to be a lot larger than the original building. Now that the nose of the camel is firmly under the tent flap It appears to me that Beachhaus tour traffic is getting ready to crowd out all the other businesses that share that back lot parking. They definitely won't be allowed to use that lot diagonally across the street for parking...That belongs to the church of St Rose. They will not want to sell or lease it, for the safety of the students at their 2 schools. The only other alternative I can see is for this LI carpetbagger brewery to advertize Train Brew Tours that will bring tourists directly to their door. The downside to that is there will be brew tour people drinking & hanging around the station as they wait for their train. People might actually stop coming to the beach by train if they have to sit in a car with Beachhaus tourists throwing up for miles! Now is the time for Belmar to ask some hard questions about parking, traffic issues, & how they intend to attract customers for their beer tour. I would get it in writing!
Dame Bridgid April 01, 2014 at 01:08 PM
Walk in, sample a little, then buy a six pack or a case...Sounds like a package store to me! It also sounds like lots of trash & drunks for Belmar to pay for up & down Main Street, plus around Lake Silver, the boardwalk, & at the beach itself.

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