Just one day after the New Ontario Brewing Company received its occupancy permit, it opened the doors to its new facility on Seymour Street in North Bay's east end.
“Once it came in, we said we were going to open the doors. We’re not going to do a ton of advertising. Pretty much everything here right now is new from what we used to do before. We’re just going to get to know the system while people are coming through,” explained company president and brewmaster Mike Harrison about the weekend opening.
“So, everything we have is new from point-of-sale software, new products, new ways we package. So, we’re soft rolling the intro this weekend and for the next couple of weeks, and we are hoping to roll out a grand opening towards the end of summer.”
North Bay’s original brewing company has been open since 2015.
“But New Ontario Brewing was here 100 years before that. It ran for 10 years around the First World War, and then it burned down. So, we kind up picked up the mantle in 2015.”
The business moved from its Cassells Street location of about 14,000 square feet to its new 16,000-square-foot facility at a former Honda dealership.
“We do everything here from mashing the grains, brewing the beer, adding the hops, fermenting, packaging. Everything happens here in this facility,” explained Harrison.
“On top of that, we’re developing our distillery infrastructure in the back. We have our first two stills out of three that are in, and we’re going to be rolling out a new distill product line in the next coming months as our licence gets approved.”
The company is not letting a pandemic slow it down.
“You never really get to choose what is going to happen. With the pandemic, we had an opportunity to pivot and support our community. We now have our other company, Pure North Medical, that produces hand sanitizer for Northern hospitals and government organizations,” Harrison said.
“We had a couple of things going against us but like any good business, when you face an obstacle, you find a way to overcome it. So, we’re just happy now that we’re into phase three of the government’s plan. We’re able to open and let people come and enjoy the beer the way it is meant to be, which is on our premises as fresh as it can get, with the tanks 30 feet away.”
The outdoor patio is a welcome space for people wanting to enjoy the cold beverage outdoors.
“When we got the building that was the first thing we looked at. We wanted to focus on being a patio brewery in the summertime. When we get closer to winter the inside will be a little bit bigger for us.”
While the business does not offer food service, anyone wanting a bite to eat can order in.
“Anybody is welcome to call in any meal from restaurants around town. For us it is about how we can support the restaurants around town because they are our customers, too. And one of the ways we do that is by not competing against them with our own restaurant here,” said Harrison.
“So, they can bring food in. They can call it in, Skip the Dishes or whatever app they like to use, bring it in to their table and we’ll supply the beer.”
Harrison said it has been a busy six months.
“We’ve been crazy busy getting this place ready, but we’re very excited that people can come here. We’ve built a space where we can showcase our products, and we think it will make everything more enjoyable. And we also have a place where we can make a lot of new and innovative products. We’re really excited.”