Freedman's Bakery To Become New Brewery

East Coast Beer Company, makers of Beach Haus beer, to take over iconic bakery site.

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


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

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.

“The beer company is obviously a Jersey Shore-themed and branded based upon the Jersey Shore and the location here in Belmar just really is very exciting to  us,’’ East Coast Brewery investor Joel Brudner said. “We think it’s a very compatible partner.”

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.’’

J September 20, 2013 at 08:35 AM
Sounds good, now we need a bakery to open in one of the vacant spaces on Main St., or else the lines at the Macaroon will be out the door.
Dame Bridgid September 20, 2013 at 09:30 AM
That area already has a lot of bus traffic from the 2 schools a block away from it. School classes cross Main Street daily & children walk past this site from the train station every morning. Adding large freight and/or beer delivery trucks to this school walking zone is going to require more crossing guards areas along Main Street or on 8th. Will the company provide them? Traffic for a brewery is an industrial level activity that will change this area's traffic pattern badly.
Cindy Hadam September 20, 2013 at 12:47 PM
It is a GREAT IDEA......Love it....
Teddy Ehmann September 20, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Well Dame Whatever: If you had attended the meeting, you would know how and when they will operate. You would know that it will not be a problem.
First Rate September 21, 2013 at 06:36 AM
Smarty pants Teddy: never trust when Belmar town council tells you something will not be a problem
Dame Bridgid September 21, 2013 at 07:08 AM
Teddy, I recommend you visit an active brewery of the type that is planned, & pay close attention to their truck traffic before attacking reasonable postings. I guess YOU were snoozing when the company said they are not going to sell in large quantities out of the storefront on Main Street. If that is true, they will be transporting it out of town to sell it. Logically; that will mean a large amount of trucking, unless you actually think fairies are going to wave their magic wands instead.... *snicker*
Dame Bridgid September 21, 2013 at 08:20 AM
What about the noise ordinances that Connolly Station & all the other businesses must abide by after 10 PM? This location borders on a very quiet neighborhood. Year round local residences & the convent at St Rose are close enough to be affected. Freidman's did not operate 24 hours a day; this brewery will, bottling it's product. Canada Dry was required to place a substantial buffer zone around it's plant because bottling is a very noisy activity. Belmar is not Point Pleasant. There is a reason why residents have rejected the carney arcade atmosphere & kept it from over development. This business is a poor fit for that area. It looks like all the convenience is on their side. I think Belmar will regret letting them in when these outsiders dominate the town.
charlie September 25, 2013 at 09:10 AM
A brewery wanted to come to Manasquan a few years back, but was rejected by the town. Mainly due to location and smells it would cause. There is plenty of open space out west a little where neighborhoods wouldn't be affected. I don't see why the location in Belmar is so important for a Brewery. Maybe a brewpub. Brewpub might be phase II?
J September 25, 2013 at 11:14 AM
Charlie, I imagine a shore town location is very desirable to a brewery using "Beach Haus" as its trade name; I'm sure they're dying to put "Brewed in Belmar" on their label. Also, wouldn't a brewpub bring with it the same issues you and Brigid have mentioned, plus the extra noise, parking, etc., associated with the pub portion, which is, simply put, a bar/restaurant?
Cindy Hadam September 25, 2013 at 11:26 AM
I have been to a few Brew Pubs,up in Sunday River,Maine.Our family has a ski house there. I never noticed odd smells coming from any of them.The noise issue I am not sure about , The traffic I can understand. but there area looks like a dump and even a Brew Pub (bar) would be better then the way it looks now..but thanks for making me think of issues I might have missed CH
George Murphy October 17, 2013 at 12:44 AM
All I can say is we don't need another "brewery" in the Belmar-Lake Como Metroplex. I feel that Freedman's should re-open in a different location in the town. There is just no substitute for the hard rolls there.
John Williams October 17, 2013 at 01:07 AM
Really you have to think like a politician..what will give you more money for the town...a bakery or a brewery? Not that the politicans care..do they ever?
John Williams October 17, 2013 at 01:17 AM
When I was in HS with my best friend we used to drive to Belmar when we were 17. My friends parents own one of those huge houses with a wrap around deck...we went there galore in the winter ( drove since we were 17 and legal from north jersey)..Belmar was like a ghost town and being n a nine bedroom home scared the chit out of us. The next year we finished High School together and both of us was drafted for Nam (1969).I never saw my friend again and do google his name all the time.


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