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Eli Fish Brewing Company

June 4, 2022 - 9:00am

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The chance to wed two great flavors was also an opportunity to bring two local companies together to develop a new product that helps both mark their business anniversaries, said Jeremy Liles, owner of Oliver's Candies in Batavia and Elba.

Hence, Oliver's Candies and Eli Fish Brewing Company have collaborated to bring Genesee County its own local version of beer brittle -- peanut brittle with a beer base instead of water to give the candy an added flavor dimension.

"I like the collaboration amongst businesses, and with this being our 90-year anniversary, I thought it was a fun project," Liles said. "I love Eili Fish and eat there often and those guys are great over there, so that's what I liked about it, just the whole collaboration idea and experimenting with something new, and introducing something new to our customers."

Master candy maker Doug Pastecki said he and Liles have been fascinated with the idea of beer brittle since reading several years ago about a collaboration in California between a candy company and Anchor Steam Brewing.  At the time, there was no local brewery, and using a mass-produced beer wasn't appealing so the idea got shelved.  As Oliver's 90th anniversary approached, Pasteck and Liles were casting about for a new product idea when the trade magazine re-ran the beer brittle story.  With Eli Fish coming up on its fourth anniversary, it seemed like a perfect time for the two companies to work together.

"We got together, we picked up the beer and we got it right in the first shot," Pastecki said.

The beer is a sweeter beer with a complex malt flavor, "Bad Bad Le Roy Brown," an Eli staple.

Malt, sugar, and peanuts go great together, Pastecki noted, and of course, peanuts are often served in bars so that aspect was also a natural fit.

That doesn't mean there wasn't some R&D involved in the process, said Adam Burnett, master brewer for Eli.

"When you just eat a lot of candies, drink a lot of beer, and figure out what goes well together, that's the fun part," Burnett.

Burnett said he was also energized by the opportunity to collaborate with a local legendary company, and from an industry he hasn't previously worked with.

"I definitely have a bit of an MO for doing collaborations by any means necessary," Burnett said. "I think it raises both brands. Every other collaboration I've done has been with breweries, which is a lot of fun for me, but this is outside my wheelhouse. I got to learn about what's going on here. Getting to learn about the history of Oliver's and getting to take part in something for a big anniversary for them is special for me. At Eli Fish, we're the new kids. It's nice to be taken into the old guard a bit."

The beer brittle is being sold at both Oliver's Locations -- Batavia and Elba -- as well as at Eli Fish.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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May 9, 2022 - 10:09pm

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It began as an ax-throwing event at Eli Fish Brewery on Main Street and morphed into an indoor and outdoor carnival with live music, magical entertainment and assorted carnival-type food, Sydney Carli says.

And the first-ever Eli Fish Brewery Carnival was born.

The City Council approved the event Monday. It is set for 4 to 10 p.m. on June 11 at the brewery and in Jackson Square.

“I’m really excited; it should be a really fun day,” Carli, the event manager, said Sunday to The Batavian. “We’re trying to get pop-up tents for people to sell their crafts and art. It would be awesome to get as many as we can; it’s for anyone who wants to sell their stuff.”

Ax-throwing made the cut, so to speak, in the line-up of activities, and that will be available at the brewery, 109 Main St., Batavia. Craft vendors, a dunk tank and fortune-teller, corn dogs, Italian sausage, Sage Farms maple cotton candy and “delicious frozen maple drinks,” a return of Matty’s Pizza, plus a fun magician book-ended by live bands, including Jim E. Leggs Trio Noah Gokey. The trio, named after a popular phrase coined by Kramer in the TV comedy Seinfeld -- "Jimmy legs" --  is described as "somewhat of a hybrid band ranging from a Latin-infused take on Nat King Cole's Nature Boy to updated arrangements of The Beatles, Steely Dan and Sting. The musicians offer an upbeat, fun and varied mix of Jazz, R&B and Pop that will lift your spirits, their website states. Noah Gokey is an eclectic indie rock band billed as a diverse blend of sounds from folk, blues, country, and jazz to reggae and heavy metal. 

“It’s a really cool opportunity to have a carnival, go and have some drinks, listen to music and see magic acts,” Carli said. “It’s an awesome day where people can come and eat, drink and have fun.”

Craft beers and Eli Fish food, plus the maple treats, will be available for purchase. GLOW Out is also having an event that day, and she is hoping that people will head over to the square to finish their Saturday at the carnival.

(GLOW OUT! plans to host a parade and festival from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 11, beginning on Alva Place and ending in the Batavia City Centre parking lot. For more information, call GO Art! at (585) 343-9313.) 

Tickets for the carnival will go on sale soon at EventBrite.com, Carli said. For vendors interested in reserving a spot, email [email protected]

April 25, 2022 - 10:44pm
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Video: 2019 Ramble Music and Arts Festival
 

 

There’s one thing for certain with the City of Batavia lately: entertainment is not taking a back seat to anything.

Live and DJ music, arts, a dunk tank, parades, dancers and food will be filling up calendars from May 30 to July 2 now that City Council has reviewed the requests and passed them on to a business meeting for official votes.

During its Monday conference session, the council looked over several requests for downtown events, from an old standby, the Memorial Day parade, to a new happening of a carnival.

Participants will be lining up at Eastowne Plaza the morning of Memorial Day and walking along Main Street to Bank Street, settling into the city parking lot on Alva Place. A yearly event to honor military veterans, the parade is being organized by City Council member Bob Bialkowski. It’s to begin at 9:45 a.m. and end before 11 a.m.
For more information about this event, go to: www.batavianewyork.com

Next up is a GLOW OUT 5K Run and Celebration that begins and ends at Centennial Park. This event is set for 5 to 9 p.m. on June 9.

GLOW OUT also has scheduled a parade and festival from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 11 at Batavia City Centre parking lot downtown. Some 15 vendors and an estimated 600 participants are expected for the event, according to the organizer, GLOW OUT President Gregory Hallock. It begins on Richmond Avenue in front of Centennial Park and winds around Bank and Ross streets, Washington and Ellicott avenues and back to Centennial.

Also on June 11 (expected to be very busy Saturday), is the Eli Fish Brewing Company Carnival in Jackson Square. Various food dishes from Eli Fish, beer, carnival games, a dunk tank, live entertainment and vendor booths are on the event menu from 4 to 10 p.m.

Council members had few, if any, questions or comments about the events, all of which have completed event request forms and supporting documentation. Council President Eugene Jankowski noted that the GLOW OUT parade is on the same day as the carnival, but there shouldn’t be any conflicts.

“I know these are two on the same day, one is in the square and the carnival itself is not going to require anything from the city,” he said. 

For more information about the carnival, go to: https://www.facebook.com/elifishbrewing/

A former Ramble event that now includes a GO ART! Music and Art Festival, is set to run from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 2 downtown. Two stages for music from 20 to 30 bands, an Artisan Alley of artist demonstrations, an arts and craft vendor fair, food trucks, a folk art stage with dancers and other performers and a children's craft area will spill out from Jackson Square onto Jackson and School streets and into a portion of the Save-A-Lot parking lot.

Costs for these events include $2,571 for the Memorial Day parade, with $922 for city police and $1,649.17 for the Bureau of Maintenance; $538 each for the GLOW OUT 5K Run and Celebration and parade and festival ($1,076 total); $538 for city police and $919.29 for the GO ART! Music and Art Festival and no costs involved for the Eli Fish Carnival. 

The following disclaimer is included on the Event Summary page of the council’s meeting packet: 

“Event sponsors are responsible for any costs that may be incurred from their event and have been made aware of estimate costs, if any.”

Bialkowski wanted to clarify how conference meetings work, given that council seems to be voting once at a conference and then once again at a business meeting. 

“I think we’ve been remiss in conference meetings,” he said. 

Council gives a general consensus agreement about moving the agenda item forward to a business meeting, Jankowski said. “There’s been some confusion that we’re voting twice,” he said. The consensus is merely a group agreement to put the official vote onto the business agenda after discussing details in a conference work session, he said. 

The next council business meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 9 in Council Chambers, second floor, City Hall.

June 24, 2021 - 3:15pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, J.J. Newberry, Eli Fish Brewing Company.

Matt Gray, co-owner of the former J.J. Newberry Building at 109-111 Main St., Batavia, is proclaiming “mission accomplished” as construction of a trio of third-floor apartments has reached the finishing touches stage.

“The building is finally 100-percent complete,” Gray said this afternoon. “Bringing people Downtown, that’s the whole idea behind it. We’re looking forward to a good 2021.”

Gray and partner Matthew Boyd have a reason to be proud as they, along with Eli Fish Brewery Company co-owner Jon Mager, have coordinated the transformation of the building (that was built in 1881) into a Downtown destination.

The entrepreneurs have invited the media and a select group of community officials connected to the project to attend an open house at 4 p.m. Friday (tomorrow) where tours of the apartments will be conducted.

Gray said that Whitney East Inc., of Rochester, was the general contractor for the apartment project that began in January. Two of the apartments have two bedrooms and the other has one bedroom.

All are equipped with high-efficiency washers and dryers and stainless steel appliances.

Gray said that tenants will be moving in on July 1, and that all are being rented at market rate – around $1,000 per month.

In 2018, four apartments were put into the second floor, with Thompson Builds as the general contractor. The building’s first floor houses Eli Fish Brewing Co. and restaurant, and Eden Café & Bakeshop.

Previously: BDC director points to Eli Fish/Newberry project as shining example of agency's value

September 4, 2020 - 3:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in the batavian sessions, music, Eli Fish Brewing Company, video.
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Recorded at Eli Fish, Feb. 15, 2020

July 13, 2020 - 11:36pm

The Batavia City Council is asking the owner of a popular downtown restaurant to go back to the drawing board after deciding not to support his plan to place a tent for outdoor dining in a parking lot next to his building.

Council, at its Conference Meeting tonight at the City Hall Council Board Room, determined that the obstacles identified by City management to the proposal by Vic Marchese of Main Street Pizza Company were valid reasons to reject his “COVID-19 2020 Temporary Outdoor Dining on City Property Program” application.

However, Council members and management said they are willing to work with Marchese on an alternative, possibly exploring the placement of tables behind his building or on the sidewalk in front of his building at 206 Main St.

“I understand that the restaurant business is an extremely competitive business and Vic does not have a lot of area to expand on,” Council Member John Canale said. “He’s at a major disadvantage … outdoor dining is almost imperative. We need to find an option for Vic Marchese to be able to compete with other restaurants who are basically eating his lunch right now.”

Marchese’s proposal was to put up a 15-foot by 75-foot tent, with lighting, in the parking lot on the east side of the restaurant – utilizing seven to eight parking spaces. He then would set up eight to 10 tables, accommodating up to 60 guests, under the tent.

Acting City Manager Rachael Tabelski, referring to her July 7 memo to City Council, read the reasons she and departmental leaders felt the plan would not be feasible.

She cited state building code’s prohibiting tents in a parking space, the fact that the City does not own the entire lot, the removal of prime parking spaces (including handicap spaces) and traffic issues in an already congested parking lot between Main Street Pizza and the building owned by City Church.

The Rev. Martin Macdonald, pastor of City Church, expressed his view of the situation during the public comments portion of the meeting.

“I love Main Street Pizza and I love Vic, but I’m concerned with having an outdoor tent (that would) make traffic more hazardous,” he said. “Batavia Bootery would not have enough parking spaces for their business and I’m very concerned about the square footage being taken away.”

Macdonald also mentioned that it’s already dangerous since cars parked in front of Main Street Pizza block the view of traffic coming from the west.

Canale said he understood the legalities involved, but said “as a council person, I need to protect businesses as well.”

Council Member Paul Viele was the only one to speak in favor of Marchese’s idea.

“Just put the tables up there, let the guy do it and get over it,” Viele said.

Following the meeting, Viele expounded on his thoughts.

“It’s a temporary thing here. Let the guy make some money like every other restaurant’s doing downtown and when the COVID is over, then you’re all set,” he said, adding that motorists would adjust to the tent being there.

“People would have adapted. It’s only a three-month or four-month (situation), however long it takes, and let people enjoy Main Street Pizza,” he said. “I understand Marty’s concern and I understand the Bootery’s concern, but if you look at it, Vic’s going to be taking parking spots from his own place because it’s on the side of his building. And people would adjust to it. It’s a no-brainer, in my opinion.”

Viele called it “unfortunate” that nobody else saw “Vic’s vision” but was pleased that Council is willing to work with Marchese on possible alternatives.

Marchese did not speak during the meeting, but communicated his plight with reporters as he was walking out.

“People aren’t coming in. People don’t like to eat indoors right now; they advise against it. What are you going to do? It’s all over television. Eat outdoors,” Marchese said. “I’ll give you an example. Three Saturdays ago, I left there (his business) at 8 o’clock at night and had one table. I went by Roman’s and I went by Batavia’s Original – packed in the patio, packed.”

Marchese said he’s taken “a big hit” – losing a considerable amount of the business that had elevated him to a lofty place in the pizzeria industry.

“I was named the one of the top independent pizzerias in the United States last year – number 68 in the country,” he said. “I do a big volume and every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, there’s 20, 30 people at the door, and it’s not there right now. Which is understandable. My wife doesn’t want to go out and eat in a restaurant. I need outdoor dining.”

He said he wasn’t in favor of putting tables behind the building (where the exhaust fan is located), but might be open to placing tables on the sidewalk in front.

“But the thing is they want you to keep the tables as close to the building as possible,” he said. “If I can put a table close to the building and right towards the curb, that could work. I could possibly fit eight tables, 10 tables out there, but they don’t want them close to the curb.”

During the early stages of the discussion about outdoor dining, there was some confusion over the “parklets” concept that was featured in a story on The Batavian following a recent Batavia Development Corporation meeting.

Council Member Robert Bialkowski said he was taken by surprise by the City’s approval of having parklets (enclosed outdoor dining areas) in the parking spaces along Main Street. It was then explained by Tabelski and BDC Executive Director Andrew Maguire that the parklets story was a separate issue – something discussed as a possibility in the future.

Bialkowski also questioned the process of developing the temporary outdoor dining permit and balked at the $250 fee attached to it.

Tabelski said she received feedback from Business Improvement District members who believed it would be unfair not to collect a fee and also cited costs involved with the program, including attorney’s fees for drafting the legal documentation.

Council President Eugene Jankowski encouraged Marchese to get together with Tabelski and City staff to explore options.

“It’s not our place to redesign the plan here … but we can’t approve the plan as it is now,” he said.

City Attorney George Van Nest mentioned that the State Liquor Authority carries a lot of weight when it comes to arrangements such as this one and puts an emphasis on safety, even to the point of requiring material barricades to prevent traffic accidents.

Council Member Rose Mary Christian disapproved as well, mentioning that the tent would take away some of the handicapped parking spots.

The debate ended with Jankowski stating he would call a special meeting to approve an acceptable plan, telling Marchese that “we’re not going to give up on you, Vic.”

Meanwhile, Council – during the Business Meeting afterward -- did approve an application by Eli Fish Brewing Company at 109 Main St. for a temporary outdoor dining license agreement.

Eli Fish’s application indicated that 12 tables, serving up to 52 guests, will be placed in Jackson Square, with hours of operation set at 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

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In another development, City Council spoke favorably of the Deer Management Plan Committee's recommendations to cull the deer population in the City, forwarding the draft to its Aug. 10 meeting for an official vote. Watch for more details on Tuesday on The Batavian.

October 31, 2019 - 11:22am

Press release:

O’Lacy’s Irish Pub & Eli Fish Brewing Company have worked together and created a custom-made beer, hoping to show the public and business community that its not always about competing, but when you work together, both businesses can benefit!

On Tuesday, Nov. 5th , 5-9 p.m., O’Lacy’s Irish Pub will be hosting a kick-off party for the new hazelnut porter that has been custom made for O’Lacy’s Irish Pub by Eli Fish Brewing Company.

The collaboration was inspired as Kent Ewell (owner, O’Lacy’s), Chris Hoffman (bartender at O’Lacy’s) and Matt Gray (wwner, Eli Fish) were discussing the large amount of draft beer that O’Lacy’s sells.

“We should make you your own custom brew,” Gray said. “You pick the type (lager, ale etc.) and flavor if you wish and we can make it."    

After reviewing what was currently on tap at O’Lacy’s, Ewell chose a hazelnut porter, which is named appropriately, “Old Sod Hazelnut Porter.”

After sampling the test batch, Ewell said, “I think this is very unique and something people will enjoy.” 

At Tuesday's kick-off party, pints will be on special for $3.50. Come on out and try the new “Old Sod Hazelnut Porte,r” which pairs perfectly with O’Lacy’s Reuben sandwich and famous homemade chips and dip.

May 13, 2019 - 9:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia's best businesses, Eli Fish Brewing Company.

Here is the second episode of Batavia's Best Businesses with Nici Johnson. This time we feature The Eli Fish Brewing Co.

We are producing this series in partnership with WBTA AM/FM.  To view our first episode, Charles Men's Shop, click here.

Local business owners interested in more information: Call Lorne Way or Jim Ernst at WBTA at (585) 344-1490.

 

May 12, 2019 - 7:34pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Eli Fish Brewing Company, preservation, landmark society.

Award text:

The fourth recipient of this year’s Landmark Awards goes to Eli Fish Brewing Company for their Adaptive reuse of the building known as J. J. Newberry at 109 111 Main Street in Batavia. Matt Gray and Jon Mager are here tonight to receive the award.

I am sure most of you in the audience tonight are familiar with Eli Fish and the story of their creation of Batavia’s first brewery in many, many years. There has been lots and lots of press coverage of the project and many happy diners and beer lovers have paid a visit since their opening in March of 2018. 

Many of you have memories of what was there before- I have fond memories of Main Street Coffee and Pieces (the jewelry, frame spot, art gallery) being there in the early parts of this century. After that, Brian and Beth Kemp’s T-Shirt ETC found a home there as did The American Red Cross. Of course, the biggest memory jogger for Batavians and folks from Genesee County was the decades that the building was known as Newberry’s.

The three-story Italianate style building was constructed in 1881. The architect was George J King who designed several buildings and residences in the area. The building was built by C.H. Turner & Son Company, a prominent local furniture maker and undertaker, before the J.J. Newberry Company, a national five-and-dime store, purchased the building in 1929.

Downtown Batavia was a hopping center of commerce during those years –both sides of Main Street were lined with late 19th century 2 and 3  story buildings, filled with every kind of business needed for a county seat. Shops were on the ground level floor and offices above. On the corner of Jackson and Main the Bank of Genesee, the building stands still, next it the now long vacant Carr Building remains as well. Between Carrs and Newberry a theater once stood, but a fire devastated it in the mid-thirties and was eventually replaced with a single story addition onto Carr’s.

Following World War II, storefronts in Batavia and all across the country began to change. In an effort to embrace the sleek new look in vogue, many buildings were altered by covering up the brick facework with steel or aluminum. The Newberry building’s storefront was altered- but not to the extent that other Newberry properties experienced across the country.  In 1948 a single story building was erected to the rear of the original structure, more than doubling its length.  The

renovation included a relocated lunch counter with a curved Art Moderne hood.  Main Street Coffee incorporated into their operation and Eli Fish left a portion of it exposed in the entry area of the brewery.  The modern storefront configuration with large plate glass windows was a marvel at the time; it even warranted a full article and large picture in the paper announcing its completion.

Newberry maintained its façade between the 1920s and 50s, even to the point of utilizing hand-cut

wooden gold lettering across the signboard to advertise its presence on Main Street, which was much more

sympathetic to its Italianate Design. The use of gold-painted wood is noteworthy given the proliferation of

plastic molding techniques which have become the dominant sign making style since plastic became available en-mass in the 1940s. Indeed, the Batavia sign was reportedly done by H.H. Upham Company out of New York City, one of the city’s most distinguished sign companies.

When thousands of square feet of Batavia’s downtown meet the wrecking ball in the sixties and seventies, the Newberry Building remained. In 1996 it closed and was briefly home to another 5 and dime before it was sold to Andrew Mistler in 2003. That’s when the building was divided into two elongated spaces available for rent. Main Street Coffee and Pieces rented floor space for a period of time, then T-Shirts ETC and The Red Cross followed them.

In 2015, the building was sold to AGRV Properties with the dream of drastically overhauling the building into a Brewery, restaurant and living spaces. Matt Gray and Jon Mager consulted with the Batavia Development Corporation and arrived at the concept of Fresh Lab to bring in two start-up kitchens to supplement Eli Fish’s own operation. Shortly after purchasing the building, Gray and Mager brought in Buffalo’s Preservation Studios to start the process of listing the property on the National Park Services Register of Historic Places. That highly detailed process resulted in the J J Newberry building attaining a position on the list on September 11, 2017. It joins 23 others on the Register in Genesee County. The achievement, in addition to the historical significance, greatly enhanced the financial feasibility of the project to do a 20 percent tax credit at both the federal and state levels.

Construction began in the spring of 2017. During the construction process, the original plans for the brewery evolved from having the brewing operation on the first floor to moving it into the rear portion of the basement, necessitating the removal of portions of the floor and altering the project’s use of the interior space. The final layout occupies more restaurant space than was originally intended.

Since opening last year one of the two start-ups has left the operation but Eden ( featuring vegan fare) has been very well received as has Eli Fish’s beers and food. The operation at the brewery continues to evolve with additional soundproofing to reduce interior noise levels and adjustments to their menu to meet the demands of the clientele.

Quote from The Preservation Exchange Blog entry by Matt Shoen

“The density of our streets have decreased as companies attempt to gain their own spaces, damaging the feeling and cohesion of our cities. Simply look at images of old Batavia to see how the city's commercial district used to be dominated by three-story Italianate buildings, filled with large stores and commercial tenants on the upper levels. Much of these are gone, replaced by box stores and the downtown mall. The Newberry Building is actually a bit of an albatross, standing between buildings put up in the 1950s. The fact that the building maintained its form from 1881 to the present day is remarkable, even more so considering Newberry's company-wide remodeling plan from the 1950s that sought to sheath many of its buildings with metal siding. The Newberry Building in Batavia escaped this treatment, making it one of the few buildings in Batavia to survive relatively unscathed from the city's heyday….., reminding pedestrians of the shape of their old Main Street.”

February 12, 2019 - 3:27pm
Hops for Hope will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17, at Eli Fish Brewing Company in Batavia. The brewery will be releasing its new Hope Lager at the event.
 
All of the proceeds from the new beer sale, along with the sale of several other items, will go to the Michael Napoleone Memorial Foundation and Gilda's Club of Rochester. Both organizations assist families undergoing the challenges of a cancer diagnosis.
 
Join us for an afternoon of “Hope” … listening to the music of Michael DiSanto, purchasing a commemorative glass that puts you in a cash drawing, participate in some games, buy some apparel and just spend a Sunday afternoon with friends.
 
Tickets are available at the door for $15 and include live music and appetizer stations provided by Eli Fish, which is located at 109 Main St.
 
Go to elifishbrewing.com for details or call 585-861-0550 or 585-423-9700 for questions.
December 28, 2018 - 6:30pm


Are you looking for something to do on New Year's Eve? Come spend the night with Eli Fish!

We will be offering a special New Year's Eve Dinner for Two menu from 4 to 8 p.m. with desserts provided by Eden Cafe.

Genesee Ted will be performing starting at 9:30, and we will bring in the New Year with a ceremonial keg drop and the tapping of a new brew -- BRUT-ally Honest IPA. Click here for more details.

May 21, 2018 - 11:30am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, news, freshLAB, Eli Fish Brewing Company.

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Victor Figueroa's empanadas recipe was a big hit with the judges in the Foodie Challenge, propelling him toward winning one of two slots inside the FreshLAB restaurant incubator inside the recently opened Eli Fish Brewing Company.

Yesterday, The Wild Rican, Figueroa's Puerto Rican-flavored food stand, officially opened.

Pictured are Michael Scribner, Michelle Figueroa, Victor Figueroa, and Cristal Nunez.

April 23, 2018 - 1:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in EDEN, news, batavia, downtown, business, freshLAB, Eli Fish Brewing Company.

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Eden, the new vegan food booth inside the Eli Fish Brewing Company restaurant at 111 E. Main St., Batavia, held a grand opening celebration and ribbon cutting Sunday afternoon.

Eden is one of two new food establishments opening inside Eli Fish, as part of an initiative sponsored by the Batavia Development Corp. called FreshLAB. 

Owner Judy Hysek cuts with the ribbon Jim Turcer, left, the first paid customer, Chamber of Commerce President Tom Turnbull, Chris Hysek, Judy's husband, Tracy Burgio, representing FreshLAB, and David Balonek, Judy's father.

April 8, 2018 - 6:10pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Eli Fish Brewing Company, downtown, batavia.

A reader tipped me to this video. It's an informative profile of Eli Fish Brewing Company.

March 24, 2018 - 7:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Eli Fish Brewing Company, downtown, batavia, news, business.

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There was another large crowd at Eli Fish Brewing Company today as Batavia's first brewery in decades -- named after a brewery of a prior century -- held its grand opening.

Previously: Eli Fish Brewing Company ready for grand opening tomorrow

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March 23, 2018 - 8:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Eli Fish Brewing Company, batavia, news, notify.

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There have been some nice surprises along the way in getting Eli Fish Brewing open over the past couple of weeks for owners Matt Gray and Jon Mager, not the least of which is the crush of people crowding into the large bar and dining area that was once the retail store space of J.J. Newberry.

There's also the quality of the staff they've been able to hire; how well the brewery is working out as a workspace for Mager; the quality of the New York brews and spirits they've been serving; and the overwhelmingly positive feedback they've been getting in person and on social media from customers throughout Western New York.

Now, it's time for the grand opening, which is Saturday and will highlight the launch of the first two new beers from Eli Fish. There will be a ribbon cutting at 2 p.m. with food samples served until midafternoon and $5 drafts all day long.

"Our nighttime crowds have been pretty surprising," Gray said. "Our Friday and Saturday nights have been very good. We’re serving a lot of guests and everybody seems to be happy with it."

For those visitors who get out and about often in the community, there has been a common observation as they wade through the large crowds on a Friday or Saturday night -- a lot of unfamiliar faces.  When you are out and about often enough in a small community, you get used to seeing the same people. There's a lot of new faces showing up at Eli Fish.

Gray, who also owns Alex's Place, has noticed the same thing.

"I'm noticing two different things," Gray said. "The crowd that is here that I do know and is local I don't see at Alex's, so they're not dining at that establishment. And then there are the ones I don't know at all, and there's a lot of them."

One of the goals of the City and Batavia Development Corp. has been to encourage more restaurants and bars downtown to help capture the estimated $2 million local residents spend in Rochester and Buffalo rather than Batavia. Of course, bringing people from Rochester and Buffalo and the other surrounding counties to Batavia would be a good thing, too.

Gray said one of the things they'll do with the grand opening is hold drawings, which include a registration that captures the zip code of entrants so they can get a better feel of where their new customers are coming from.

Mager said several posts on social media have indicated people are driving from the two metro areas to Batavia to visit Eli Fish.

But a common theme in the reviews is also that once people are inside the building they don't feel like they're in Batavia. They feel like they're in Rochester or Boston or somewhere else.

"That leads me to believe that there are a lot of people from Batavia who are coming and have been looking for something different, so it’s cool," Gray said.

Getting people to come into a new restaurant is one thing. Getting them to come back, especially to fill a space as large as Eli Fish, is another thing.

The positive reviews of the booze and food so far are a good indication people will come back, and there are trends in the first two weeks of the soft open that indicate people will come back. Gray noted that a number of people have come in expecting just a brewery but during the visit also learned there are menus with hearty entrees and a fully staffed and stocked kitchen. There's already a trend, he said, of people coming back for a second visit for lunch or dinner.

To help provide reasons for people to visit Eli Fish regularly, Gray and Mager installed an indoor bocce court. They plan to sponsor bocce leagues and tournaments. They are also considering euchre and bridge tournaments, as well as other games suitable to the space.

"Jon and I, right from the get-go, have looked at Eli Fish as a community space, a place where people go to meet, whether it’s family, friends, business meetings, events, and so on," Gray said. "We're very surprised at the number of calls that we’ve gotten to book larger events, 30 to 50 people. We have a lot of those already scheduled."

Another attraction for customers, of course, will be the two food stands inside the building that will be occupied by winners of the FreshLABs restaurant startup competition. EDEN Vegan has already been selected for one of the spaces and is expected to open April 22.

Mager said he's also been pleased with the brewery they built in the basement of the century-old building.

"We did a good job making it a functional space," Mager said. "We’re not too cramped. We’re not tripping over ourselves, so brewing down there is enjoyable and so far it’s gone very, very well."

While the light has shone the first two weeks on the restaurant and bar, Saturday is Mager's big day when his first two beers from the brewery make their debut.

There will be an IPA called "First Draft" and a blonde that didn't have a name as of Thursday afternoon but will be christened by Saturday.

"Saturday is going to be a pretty fun day," Mager said.

One unique feature of the bar is that all of the beers and spirits are brewed or distilled in New York. There are no mass produced brews or liquors. Everything is handcrafted.

That means some of the labels can be pretty unfamiliar to most customers when they first come in, that puts pressure on servers to have good palates, experience and knowledge of what they're serving.

"One of biggest, pleasant surprises we had was the quality of the people that applied for our serving and bartending jobs," Gray said. "They are experienced. They know their stuff and they are open about learning new things."

New customers, new beers (20 on tap) and new spirits, and new staff have meshed nicely together so far, Mager said.

"It is a learning experience on what to recommend to somebody who comes in and says 'I like Coors light, what would you recommend?' and I think everybody’s been picking it up pretty well that, yeah, it is a craft beer, but it doesn’t mean that it’s super hoppy and super alcoholic. We have light craft beers and the few that we have that fit that bill have been the highest sellers."

Both Gray and Mager have been surprised to discover just how good New York's spirits can be, as well.

"Most people don’t think that New York is going to produce like excellent world-class gin,' Mager said. "We’ve got gins back there that I would put against Beefeater and everything else all day.

"There is a vodka out of Clarence," he added, "that me and Matt sampled together. It was fantastic. It’s not like you're making a concession. It’s not like you’re settling for something less than premium."

With Gray quickly adding, "They’re premium."

Gray likes Irish whiskey, but he enjoys all whiskey and it's been an adventure sampling what New York has to offer.

"I like trying them all," he said.

"That’s pretty much my outlook on craft beer," Mager added. "I don’t like going to a bar with a specific beer in mind. I like trying them all. Sometimes they’re not my favorite but I like the adventure of trying them all."

Eli Fish is someplace not like Batavia, is the feedback, someplace that offers a bit of an adventure, someplace to bring the community together, and it seems that so far Eli Fish is off to a good start.

But it's not complicated, said Gray, who got his start in the food business a couple of decades ago with Matty's Pizzeria. The basics remain the same.

"A lot of things have changed (since Matty's) but it's all the same thing," Gray said. "There are only two people you’re trying to make happy, and that’s your guest walking in the door and your staff.

"You want to make sure everyone working with you wants to be there and is happy to be there, and then you want to make sure they are also making sure that every guest who walks in is happy with what you’re putting out and the service you’re getting. Whether it’s a round pizza or a square plate, it’s pretty much the same thing."

March 1, 2018 - 5:15pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Eli Fish Brewing Company, batavia, business, news.

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Eli Fish Brewing, the new downtown restaurant and brewery going into the former Newberry building, was adorned with its new sign on the front of the building today.

Inside, managers and more than a dozen new staff members were busy with training and setup.

The business should be open to the public within a couple of weeks.

February 5, 2018 - 12:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Eli Fish Brewing Company, freshLAB, batavia, news, notify.

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Eli Fish Brewing Company, in the Newberry's building downtown, might be less than a month away from opening.

Co-owner Matt Gray said construction is done. Now it's just a matter of waiting for the delivery of the rest of the furniture and kitchen wares.

Starting today, four managers are working full-time at the restaurant and brewery. Next week, there will be an open interview period for potential staff members.

Gray said his partner, Jon Mager, should be able to start brewing beer next week, which is one of the big decisions because it will take four weeks for the first batch to be ready to serve.

"Which puts us in a real bind," Gray said. "Do we open on March 1 or do we wait another three weeks so we have our own beer on tap?"

The target date for the FreshLab winners to open their food booths is April 1. The winners have not yet been announced.

There are four apartments on the second floor just about ready for occupants. The rental rates will be from $850 to $950 for the one-bedrooms and $1,250 for the two-bedroom apartment (which features a large living room and dining area and a large master suite with a dual-head shower).

There's space on the third floor for three apartments. One will be either two or three bedrooms and possibly a balcony/deck in the back of the building. The Newberry building is one of the projects under consideration for a Downtown Revitalization Initiative prize and if selected, the money will be used to finish these apartments as well as a patio/seating area at the back of the restaurant in Jackson Square.

"I'm excited," Gray said. "Jon is excited. I've just got to get it open. Not only has it been a long time and a big project, we're pushing it. Our staff is ready to go. We're ready to go. We need to start changing the flow of cash."

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August 8, 2017 - 3:07pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, business, Newberry Building, Eli Fish Brewing Company.

Press release:

Three Batavia natives are giving a nod to the city’s past with an exciting plan they hope will be a cornerstone of Batavia’s future.

Eli Fish Brewing Company will be the official name of a microbrewery currently under construction in the former JJ Newberry Building at 109 Main Street, the brewery’s owners announced today. The name is in honor of Eli Fish, who operated Fish’s Malt House, a brewery located on the corner of Elm and Main Streets in the 1800s. The brewery, which reportedly had the capacity to produce 16,000 barrels of beer annually in 1883, burned many times during Fish’s ownership, with Fish rebuilding it each time at the same location.

Eli Fish Brewing Company is led by Batavia natives Matthew Gray, owner of Alex’s Place in Batavia, as well as Buffalo Brothers Pizza and Wing Co. in North Carolina, Jon Mager, a third-generation owner in Arctic Refrigeration in Batavia, and Matthew Boyd, a partner in both Alex’s and Buffalo Brothers Pizza and Wing Co., who oversees Buffalo Brothers’ five North Carolina locations. The owners expect to open Eli Fish Brewing Company by the end of the year.

“Eli Fish was a renaissance man who played an important role in the development and growth of early Batavia, and his entrepreneurial and rebuilding spirit really spoke to us,” Mager said of the decision to name the microbrewery. “That’s the same spirit and vision we want to bring to this project and bring people back to Main Street.”

The brewery will house 20 taps, featuring ten beers brewed in-house and ten rotating beers from around New York State. Along with New York beers, the bar will also pour craft cocktails and fine wines, all sourced from New York State wineries and distilleries. The brewery operation will be a seven-barrel system, with all brewing performed on site, using locally-sourced ingredients.

Eli Fish Brewing Company will be the cornerstone of a $2.8 million renovation of the Newberry building into a mixed-use development with a restaurant incubator, known as FreshLAB, joining the brewery on the first floor and apartments planned for the second and third floors.

“Newberry’s was a destination for generations of Batavia residents,” Gray said, recalling the store’s lunch counter and creaky wooden floors. “We want to make this building, and the Main Street corridor, a destination again. Jon, Matt and I were all born here. Our families saw the decline of the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, and we want to be part of Batavia’s next renaissance.”

The FreshLAB restaurant incubator will feature three commercial kitchens, with Eli Fish Brewing Company operating the largest kitchen and serving a menu of locally-sourced seasonal fare, including gourmet salads, sandwiches, soups, platters and bread. The other two kitchens will be available to start-up restaurateurs to develop and grow more dining concepts within Genesee County. The vision is to have tenants occupy the turnkey kitchens for short-term leases of approximately 18-24 months, sharing the food hall dining room during which time they can focus on unique menu offerings, sourcing local ingredients and honing their operational systems, such as ordering product and paying their bills.

“The idea is to help other restaurateurs and entrepreneurs develop their businesses without the financial burden of outfitting their own locations right off the bat,” explained Boyd. “Once they have perfected their operation and their lease matures, the vision is that they will then plant their roots and continue their operations in Genesee County, creating an opportunity for a new eatery to locate at FreshLAB.”

The incubator concept was fueled, in part, by statistics that show local residents spend more than $13 million annually on dining and nightlife outside of Genesee County.

“People want a choice,” added Gray, who labels himself a “serial restaurateur.” “Every eatery at FreshLAB should bring a fresh perspective and their own culinary vision to the kitchens. We’re looking to provide a culinary experience you can’t enjoy elsewhere in the area.”

The partners’ development vision for the Newberry building is being supported by the City of Batavia, Batavia Development Corp., Genesee County Economic Development Corporation, USDA Rural Development, National Grid and New York Main Street.

The announcement of the Eli Fish Brewing Company name comes as beer lovers from throughout the region prepare to celebrate the Beertavia craft beer festival on Saturday, August 12 from 3-6 p.m. at the corner of Bank Street and Alva Place. The event, presented by Alex’s Place, will feature offerings from more than 20 breweries and cideries, as well as live music. Information is available at www.downtownbataviany.com

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