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Eli Fish Brewing Company

Something's fishy about this downtown relay race

By Joanne Beck
Remote video URL
Video submitted by Steve Tufts

Eli Fish Brewing Company celebrated its sixth anniversary with a fun relay race, plenty of craft drinks and frozen fish this past weekend in downtown Batavia. The relay took runners around a block from Jackson Square onto School, Center and Jackson streets and back again to the Square, where a DJ was entertaining participants and spectators alike.

Billy Buckenmeyer's team won their heat in the event, and befitting of the Main Street establishment's name, real fish were used in place of the more traditional baton that passed from runner to runner for the relay. Each team received eight drink tokens and the winning team won a grand prize of four Mug Club memberships for the 2024 season.

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The lead runners set in their position at the start of the final fish race on Saturday, hosted by Eli Fish Brewing Company.  Steve Tufts asked Billy Buckenmeyer (center) if there was any race in Batavia he wasn't trying to win, and he replied, "No" with a proud look on his face.  His team would go on to win  their heat in the event.
Photo submitted by Steve Tufts.

The Big Fish Race is on to bring some silly fun to downtown for Eli's sixth anniversary

By Joanne Beck
eli fish frozen fish relay
Kaeli Lafrance, Allyssa Natrigo, and Brittney Yerger-Moe hold a frozen Buffalo carp (the actual fish to be used in the relay will be a salmon) in advance of the Eli Fish Frozen Fish Relay Race.
Photo by Howard Owens.

After years of wanting to host a memorable event to connect the Eli Fish Brewing Company name to this community’s fun-spirited nature, it looks like this will be the year, brand manager Kaeli LaFrance says.

The Fish Race will commemorate the downtown brew restaurant’s sixth anniversary and pit up to 16 teams of four people each in a silly relay foot race around the block of Jackson Square on March 23. 

“They are teams of four, and one has to be a woman. They will pass a fish they have to carry with both hands, so we’re thinking it’s a giant salmon. We want people to come out and celebrate with us. It’s one big day we want to celebrate with the community and help us with our growth and a salute to years to come. 

“A fish race is something the owners have wanted to do for years. Since they hired me this year, they said, ‘We want to do this.’  And it's been crazy, but it's going to be so worth it the day of,” LaFrance said. It’s part of the gag joke, this silly thing. We’re a brewery, and it’s something that’s fun and different. We plan on doing it every year. Next year, we can expand from it.” 

Each team has to pass off the fish to its members at relay points on the route from Jackson, School and Center streets with Jackson Square being the central landing zone. 

Beats and Beers will feature DJ Lagerhythms — and head brewmaster — Adam Burnett beginning at 2 p.m. on the patio, and the race is set for 4 p.m. There will be five heats, and the fifth heat will put the finalists against one another for the grand prize of four Mug Club memberships for the 2024 season. 

The entry fee is $40 per team and includes eight drink chips and team T-shirts. 

There will be live music inside Eli, with Josh Hawkins from 2 to 4 p.m. and Grizzwoode from 5 to 7 p.m. The DJ will be in the Square for the day as long as people want to hang out, she said. 

Teams can sign up online and will be accepted up to the day of event, up to a maximum of 16 teams.

Also, on that day, Eli will feature a Custom Charcuterie Class & Beer Pairing from 1 to 3 p.m. It's the “ultimate gourmet experience” of a guided custom grazing board with Cheese by April and a brewer at Rusty Nickel. All of the ingredients are “fresh and expertly curated with our craft beer,” and the experience comes with a custom Eli Fish wooden cheese board made by Nickel City Woodworking, LaFrance said.

Tickets for this event are also available at Eli Fish.

Table Top Art Show winners unveiled at Eli Fish

By Howard B. Owens
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Chris Stangler, pictured with Brian Kemp, won the annual Table Top Art Competition, collecting a $200 cash prize.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Nearly 100 artists -- 99 to be exact -- entered 264 works of art to the annual Table Top Art Competition, which honors winners with cash prizes and reproductions of their work on placemats that will be on table tops at local restaurants in March.

From that wealth of creativity, 20 finalists were selected and unveiled at Eli Fish on Tuesday night.

There were five honorable mentions and 15 winners, with each of the 15 works of art being reproduced on placemats and the top three winners receiving cash prizes of $200, $100, $50, and a People's Choice winner receiving $100.

The top three winners were Chris Stangler,  Vanessa Loftus, and Debra Meier.  Shauna Blake won the People's Choice voting.

There are 34 area restaurants participating in the art show. 
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Vanessa Loftus, second place, with Brian Kemp.
Photo by Howard Owens.
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Debra Meier, third place, with Brian Kemp.
Photo by Howard Owens.
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Photo by Howard Owens.
table top art competition 2024
Photo by Howard Owens.
table top art competition 2024
Photo by Howard Owens.
table top art competition 2024
Photo by Howard Owens.
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People's Choice Winner Shauna Blake.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Packed audience learns, plans for total solar eclipse to arrive in April

By Joanne Beck
Eclipse presentation tidbits
It's standing room only as 100 registered attendees take advantage of a free presentation hosted by Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday at Eli Fish.
Photo by Joanne Beck

How do you organize a total solar eclipse party? You planet.

It wasn’t long before the collective “ahhhh” came from an audience Tuesday that had registered for retired science teacher and NYS Science Teacher’s Association fellow Gene Gordon’s total solar eclipse presentation. 

While there may be some people still uncertain as to why this is a big deal for Genesee County, those 100 folks can now appreciate that, come April 8, when a total solar eclipse occurs, “Buffalo, Batavia, and Rochester are right smack in the middle of it,” Gordon said. 

“So you can actually be looking and watching it getting closer and closer, which is a really cool thing,” he said during the event at Eli Fish Brewing Company in Batavia. 

Not to confuse that comment with his warning a few minutes later. For those intending to view the eclipse, do not look at the sun, he said. He equated that to staring at the UV light emitted from welding equipment, which will burn your corneas, he said. That’s what those funky black-and-white cow-themed 3-D viewing sunglasses are for, he said, referring to the free pair everyone received with registration. 

As for warnings, that also goes for taking photos or using binoculars or a telescope without solar filters, he said. 

Gordon’s work included creating a NASA research class, and has images and details about the eclipse and a description of what will actually happen on April 8: A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun. People viewing the eclipse from locations where the moon’s shadow completely covers the sun – known as the path of totality – will experience a total solar eclipse. The sky will darken as if it were dawn or dusk. Weather permitting, people along the path of totality will see the sun’s corona, or outer atmosphere, which is usually obscured by the bright face of the sun.

Once the eclipse arrives, it will be evident by a blanket of darkness. Even if it gets cloudy, viewers ought to be able to see totality, he said. 

Animals, highly sensitive to shifts in nature, may give clues for the impending arrival by acting differently, possibly wanting to hide or respond as if it’s actually nighttime (so nocturnal creatures might be waking up) even though it will be approximately 3:19 p.m. on that Monday afternoon. 

Think everyone else will be hard at work? Maybe not. School districts are closing for the day so that students can participate in eclipse activities, and the Chamber of Commerce and other area organizations and businesses are planning events to celebrate what will be a once-in-a-lifetime happening for many citizens, especially right here in Genesee County. 

The next total solar eclipse will be on Aug. 23, 2044, to be visible from Greenland, northern Canada and in Montana and North Dakota.  

Scott and Becky Kelley of Batavia plan to take the day off from work so that they can participate in this piece of local history with their three-year-old grandson.

“He’s very interested in planets,” Scott said. “He knows all the planets, he loves anything to do with space.” 

The couple plans to do something with family in a field in Le Roy that day. Their grandchild served as motivation to attend the presentation, and they learned a few things about the upcoming event.

“I didn’t know what to expect, it was very interesting,” Becky said. “I didn’t know the exact times.” 

The eclipse path should begin to arrive around 2:06 p.m., and in Genesee County at 3:19 p.m., with a maximum time of 3:21 p.m., Gordon said. The total eclipse is to end by 3:23 p.m. “You’ve got around four minutes,” he said.

One of the “coolest things” to do before, during and after the event is to definitely take photos, Gordon said, but focus on the people and activities around you.

“It’s a party,” he said. “And stay a couple of hours afterward; the roads will be jammed. Try to have fun and experience it in a meaningful way.”

Janice Spiotta joined her mom, Mary Hodgins, for the outing, and they are planning for a family gathering --- with one member coming from Boston — on April 8 as well. It seemed like a good idea to attend the presentation for future planning, Janice said.

“Because it's a once-in-a-lifetime event, and I want to learn what I need to know to make the most of the viewing and see what's going on in our community,” the Batavia resident said, answering where she would view the eclipse. “I’m not 100 percent sure yet. We live in the town where there's not streetlights and it's darker, so we may just do it in our backyard. But I've also heard that maybe the Genesee County Park, or at DeWitt Park, might be good locations. So we haven't decided yet.”

They each found some of Gordon’s talking points surprising.

“The size of it (compared to other planets), I was amazed at that,” Hodgins said. “I have a lot of people coming here from out of town, one of my daughters is coming in.”

Spiotta thought the impact on animals was interesting, she said, “and we’ll hear the birds and the activity of even crickets and things before we even can see it ourselves.”

“I thought that was fascinating,” she said.

Chamber marketing director Katy Hobbs reminded attendees that they can purchase the book, “Genny Sees the Eclipse,” a children’s book that describes how the animals respond to the eclipse and ensuing darkness, and other related merchandise, plus see the list of upcoming events at

Eclipse presenter Gene Gordon
Retired science teacher, NYS Science Teacher Association fellow, state mentor and NASA research class creator Gene Gordon exudes his passion for a total solar eclipse to hit this area on April 8 during a talk Tuesday in Batavia. 
Photo by Joanne Beck
Eclipse presentation tidbits
It's standing room only as 100 registered attendees take advantage of a free presentation hosted by Genesee County Chamber of Commerce Tuesday at Eli Fish.
Photo by Joanne Beck
Eclipse view
Presenter Gene Gordon shows the view of an eclipse up on screen. 
Photo by Joanne Beck
Eclipse details with Katy Hobbs
Katy Hobbs of the Chamber of Commerce reminds folks that they can find a list of upcoming eclipse events and the online shop for merchandise to commemorate the April 8 total solar eclipse.
Photo by Joanne Beck

Photos: Eli Fish Oktoberfest in Jackson Square

By Howard B. Owens
eli fish oktoberfest 2023

There was a big crowd, frothy beers on tap, and plenty of "zicke zacke hoi hoi hoi" to go around in Jackson Square on Saturday as Eli Fish Brewing Co. hosted its now annual Oktoberfest.

Photos by Nick Serrata.

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eli fish oktoberfest 2023
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eli fish oktoberfest 2023

Photos: Eli Fish Carnival in Jackson Square

By Howard B. Owens
eli fish carnival
Matt Gray, co-owner of Eli Fish Brewing Co., takes a splash in the dunk tank during Saturday's carnival in Jackson Square, Batavia.
Photos by Howard Owens.

Eli Fish Brewing is hosting its second annual carnival in Jackson Square today (Saturday).

The carnival runs until 10 p.m.

Photos by Howard Owens.

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Batavia High School Class of 2003 visited the carnival as part of his 20th Class Reunion festivities.
Photo by Howard Owens.

Photos: Fans introduced to 2023 Muckdogs at Eli Fish

By Howard B. Owens
Muckdogs season ticket holders were invited to Eli Fish on Tuesday evening to meet the members of the team for 2023.
Photo by Howard Owens.

The entire roster of the 2023 Batavia Muckdogs was represented in an event at Eli Fish Brewing Co. on Tuesday, where season ticket holders could also pick up their tickets for the new season, which opens Friday in Elmira.

The Muckdogs play their first home game on Saturday and fireworks will follow the game.

See also: Batavia Muckdogs, with stacked roster, tuning up to defend division crown

Fans picked up their 2023 season tickets.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens.
muckdogs Joey Martinez
Skipper Joey Martinez returns for his third season as head coach of the Batavia Muckdogs.
Photo by Howard Owens.
muckdogs Robbie Nichols
Muckdogs' owner Robbie Nichols.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Tyrone Woods, from Alexander and currently attending GCC is a member of the 2023 Batavia Muckdogs.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Muckdogs Superfan Russ Salway.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens.
Photo by Howard Owens
Photo by Howard Owens

Photos: Third Annual Table Top Art Show at Eli Fish

By Howard B. Owens

MaryLee Pagliaroli's mixed-media piece, "Butterfly Playtime," was awarded Best of Show at Tuesday's Third Annual Table Top Art Competition at Eli Fish Brewing.

Brian Kemp and Melissa Flint conceived of the art show three years ago, in the midst of the pandemic when galleries were closed and art shows canceled. When restaurants could open, Kemp and Flint figured they could expose the work of local artists on placemats.

The show and competition -- now with Jill Pettigrew as part of the team -- was judged by Dan Butler.

As the first-place winner, Pagliaroli received $300.

Second place, and $200, went to Margaret VanArsdale for "The Flag."  Third place and $100 was awarded to Morgan Gefell for the sculpture "Rings of Fire."

Images of the works by the three top finishers, along with honorable mentions, will be printed on placemats that restaurants can provide to diners. 

There are 36 restaurants in the community participating this year.

There were 152 artists who submitted entries.

Kemp said the Table Top show has grown beyond the expectations of its organizers.

Margaret VanArsdale with "The Flag," which was made with plastic straws.

Brian Kemp on the right.

After the awards were announced, those in attendance took a closer look at the works.

Eli celebrates five years of success and future expansions

By Joanne Beck

While most businesses make big splashes out of those hefty decades-old anniversaries, Eli Fish owners and staff are plenty happy with turning five this year, brewmaster Adam Burnett says.

And the brewery and restaurant that’s already become a staple of downtown’s Main Street will be celebrating on March 3 and 4.

“It’s to celebrate the successes I don’t think any of us saw coming,” Burnett said.

It was in March 2018 when owners Matt Gray and Jon Mager opened Eli Fish Brewing Company in the deceptively large building that stretched from Main Street back to Jackson Square. That included an on-site brewery, a kitchen for Eli and one for an incubator to temporarily house a start-up restaurant for training and experience before ideally moving on to a larger space of its own.

There was also plenty of seating and room for cornhole tournaments, special event bookings and trivia nights and occasional live musical groups.

The place has closed every March since opening to upgrade the brewery — with a minimum 20 percent growth each year, Burnett said — for production capacity that “more than doubled from when I got here four years ago,” he said.

The brewery has a distribution spanning across Western New York and just signed a contract with a major name that can’t be disclosed just yet, plus Eli Fish was invited to participate in a Rochester brew expo, which is newer territory for the more western-based brew, he said.

During its shutdown next month, the property will be filled with activity to build a banquet hall for parties up to 100, continue work on the outdoor deck next to Jackson Square, refine an elevated food menu, and expand Matty’s Pizza into the former Mama Dee’z Kitchen area. (See related story.)

As for the outdoor deck? “I would love to see it functioning before the first concert in Jackson Square,” Burnett said.

How’s the food? “We still do more food sales than beer sales,” he said. “It’s all about the full experience. With Matty’s expansion, that can take a load off of our kitchen. People come now expecting new things with an international flair.”

The anniversary celebration will feature “throwback” food specials from the last five years that include shrimp and grits, bahn mi sandwich, potstickers and more. Craft brews should bring on some nostalgia, he said, with the Brewer’s Wife, a blonde ale, Madam Edna, a nod to the infamous Edna Gruber of Batavia’s pre-urban renewal days, and Church Shoes.

Funny thing is, the Edna was created without anyone knowing that she was Burnett’s great-great-grandmother — a madam, for sure, she ran a brothel on Jackson Street and was reportedly rather philanthropic with her proceeds, donating money to those in need.

The celebration is just that, Burnett said: it's a way to acknowledge that Eli Fish has not just survived.

“But we’ve been thriving,” he said.

Eli Fish Brewing Company Chef Sam Hilburger and Master Brewer Adam Burnett prepare for the five-year celebration March 3 and 4 at 109 Main St., Batavia with food specials and nostalgic craft brews from the first year of operation. Photo by Howard Owens.


Photo: New chamber president meets members at Eli Fish

By Howard B. Owens

Brian Cousins, the new president of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, mingles with local business owners and community leaders on Thursday at Eli Fish Brewing Co. at a meet-and-greet set up so community members who might not yet have met Cousins could get a chance to shake his hand and say hello.

He's been on the job for about a month so we asked him the best part of the job so far, and the worst part.

"The best part is learning something new every day," Cousins said. "The worst part is learning something new every single day."

Previously: Second career path means representing 'best place on earth' for former Darien Lake executive

Photos: Eli Fish celebrates 'wet hop' beers in Jackson Square

By Howard B. Owens

Eli Fish Brewing Company hosted a "wet hop" festival on a slightly-chilled Fall day on Saturday in Jackson Square, and more than 200 beer aficionados from all over the region turned out for the event.

"The weather is kind of cooperating and not cooperating but it's a good turnout," said Eli Fish co-owner Jon Mager.

About a half-dozen other breweries participated in the event as well.

Wet hops are freshly picked hops that typically spoil quickly after harvest so they need to be added to a brew the same day as harvesting, and wet-hop beers have a short shelf life before the wet hop flavor fades.

"Today is a celebration of wet hop beers, which means we're using fresh hops," Mager said. "We only get to do it for a very short period every year so we like to celebrate them while they're here."

It's a special flavor for beer lovers, Mager said. 

"You just get a fresher taste," Mager said. "You get a more, you know, some people will say grassy or vegetal taste, but it's such a specific type that we tend to enjoy it."

Photos by Howard Owens.

A 'fresh' start for Mama Dee'z Kitchen on Main Street, Batavia

By Joanne Beck

Saturday was not just the beginning of a new month, but also a ‘fresh’ start for a new restaurant venture inside of Eli Fish Brewing Company.

Her nearly two decades of cooking, more than three years of catering, and popping up at various summer events have propelled Dannielle Lumpkin into her own niche as Mama Dee’z Kitchen at 109 Main St., Batavia.

“We did a test run yesterday where we did a soft opening, and that went very, very well. Just learning the ins and outs, from catering to being a restaurant owner, is a big, big difference. But we've had a lot of support from our kitchen staff here, the head chef here, Sam has been very helpful. Matty has been very helpful with anything that I needed to know. And it's just a learning experience. I'm very excited for what the future holds for us,” Lumpkin said during her grand opening Saturday.

“So right before COVID we had started the process of looking for a building, and then COVID was here. A lot of it was really rough. And so once things started getting better, it was that time, I felt, for me to try to find something to open up with. Batavia doesn't really have a lot of diversity when it comes to options for food, and I wanted to be able to bring that to Batavia. So I think that this is going to be a staple in Batavia, because we can offer a different choice of food from different cultures.”

As friends and family poured into the back area where Mama Dee’z is located at Eli Fish, Lumpkin and her staff of family members pulled golden brown fried chicken from a pan to serve. Her specialties are jerk-laced meats, homemade sauces, Caribbean and soul food flavors, but with an expansive menu that also includes a shaved ribeye steak, mixed cheeses, peppers and onion wrapped in an egg roll wrapper appetizer, Caribbean alfredo pasta with chicken or shrimp, macaroni and cheese, sweet bread, and a chicken wing dinner.

The Batavia resident had her eye on Eli Fish some time ago, since it has already served successfully as incubator space for three others, including Eden Cafe & Bakeshop, Eat Well Grill and Matty’s Pizza. The incubator concept was first developed in the late 1950s at Harvester Center in Batavia, and has been a more recent venture for downtown. Lumpkin had to purchase her inventory of food and supplies, however, the kitchen was ready to go with equipment and appliances.

It would have been much more cost prohibitive for her to do it all on her own, entrepreneur and Eli Fish co-owner Matt Gray said.

“It's a second generation restaurant coming in, she's coming into the spot that Eden cafe was in, and successfully transferred over into downtown Ellicott Street and Liberty. So it's great to also offer the same space again to another entrepreneur/restauranteur to add to the business here. Because of the menu, diversity always helps,” Gray said.

“For a very, very small amount of money upfront, they're able to come in and really go after their dream, where normally would cost upwards of more than six figures, to buy your equipment and everything that you need to get stocked up. Here, it's really very minimal," he said. "And they're able to come in for a shorter period of time, work out what their business plan is, work out what kind of food they really want to serve, what their guests are looking for, and hopefully make that leap to another brick and mortar location on their own.”

Lumpkin has signed a deal for six months, and will be open the same hours as Eli Fish: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

While preparing for the big day of ribbon-cutting and celebrating her dream come true, Lumpkin served her food to Eli Fish staff, which was “fantastic,” Gray said. It adds “another level of service” for the brewery, he said. And while the Lumpkin family, which includes husband Myron, continues to strengthen their business, Gray and other staff members are available for advice, suggestions and feedback.

“We work together as much as we can,” he said.

Business Improvement District Executive Director Shannon Maute and Chamber of  Commerce Interim Director Tom Turnbull were also on hand with congratulations and praise for adding another establishment downtown.

“This really evolved out of the Fresh Lab experiment they did a few years ago where we had a couple of successful restaurants come out of here … And this is just the next extension," Turnbull said. "I had a chance to meet with Dannielle and Myron, and the food looks fantastic. I can't wait to try it. It's something unique and I think that brings a different flavor, no pun intended, to downtown Batavia and Genesee County. It's great to see another restaurant open up. And it's such a great opportunity here to do it as an incubator restaurant where you don't have all the expenses of a full-blown restaurant, but you can learn, and under Matt Gray, take advantage of that.”

Maute has gotten to know Dannielle and has learned of her determination, energy and creative culinary skills. Not only has Dannielle now placed another restaurant on the downtown map, but she has joined BID committees and is “a great addition to BID,” Maute said.

“I’m just here to support Danny and her adventure … This is huge for BID, it is something so different. We've never had it before, and to have this quality of food and the style of food is going to do really well. Batavia really is changing, and this just goes with the times,” Maute said. “And now you can come downtown and get different food, and you're not getting the same cookie-cutter food. Eli Fish was one of the first people that did that with their different style of foods. So Mama Dee’z fits right in with the different style of foods. She's determined she's going to do well. I have no doubt that she's going to really do well here and then, eventually, we'll help her get into a brick and mortar.”

For prior coverage:

Top Photo: Dannielle Lumpkin, with husband Myron, and their family, celebrate the ribbon-cutting of Mama Dee'z Saturday inside Eli Fish Brewing Company at 109 Main St., Batavia; Dannielle gets ready to serve up some chicken; showing off the new Mama Dee'z logo. Photos by Joanne Beck.

Photos: Eli Fish Oktoberfest in Jackson Square

By Howard B. Owens

Eli Fish hosted its fourth annual Oktoberfest Saturday at Jackson Square in Batavia. As promised by organizer Adam Burnett, the event was overflowing with attendees, as the ever-popular German band The Frankfurters played traditional songs, accompanied by the band's dance troupe. Attendees joined in with the dancing, and quenched their appetites with German-themed brews and food from Eli Fish Brewing Company.

Joanne Beck contributed to this article. Photos by Howard Owens.

Grab your lederhosen and polka shoes, it's time for Oktoberfest

By Joanne Beck

In the mood for some German fruited lager? It’s like a pilsner that’s “bombarded” with notes of prickly pear and blood orange.

“It’s crisp, dry and refreshing, but floral and fruity,” chief brewer Adam Burnett says. “It reminds me of the Southwest.”

That craft brew will be one of three available at this year’s Oktoberfest hosted by Eli Fish Brewing Company. Burnett has been at the brewing helm for the last four years, and involved with the traditional October celebration for the last three. After living in California for 15 years, Burnett didn’t get to experience many of the German-themed events, and this one’s been growing on him.

“It’s becoming (a favorite) … definitely one of the best days of the year,” he said during an interview with The Batavian.”

The fourth annual Oktoberfest has been scheduled earlier this year — at least one week before most fests begin — as a way for people to participate before other events get going. It’s set for 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Jackson Square in downtown Batavia.

“We’re excited to see if being one of the first ones brings the energy up even higher,” Burnett said. “Last year we had it at the end of the month, and some people said they had been to four others already.”

Founded in Munich, Oktoberfest this year runs from Sept. 17 through Oct. 3. According to, the festival originated on Oct. 12, 1810, in celebration of the marriage of the crown prince of Bavaria, who later became King Louis I, to Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen. But does anyone really care much about the origins of an event that’s filled with German food, beer, music and dancing?

And there will be all of those things, Burnett said. The Frankfurters, a band so popular it has to be booked two years out, will take the stage while its complementary dance troupe whoops it up. Promoted as “the best of the wurst,” the Buffalo performers are dressed to the nines — neuner in German — in lederhosen (leather shorts with suspenders) for the men and dirndls (short swingy dresses with ruffles or a half-apron and peasant-style blouses) for the women.

“It’s just wild, they’re so entertaining. It’s a hoot,” he said. “They’re very fun to watch, very engaging.”

The band is already booked for Eli’s 2023 festival due to its popularity, he said.

Burnett looks forward to pulling on his lederhosen and fully embracing the part, he said. In fact, one can expect Eli Fish staff to be dressed accordingly, he said, and attendees are encouraged to do likewise. Since there is so much activity in the Square — lively polkas, a beer tent and all — it is suggested not to bring a lawn chair to the event, he said. But do wear your dancing shoes.

Another beer at the event will be a standard amber lager and a festival German blond beer, “a step-sister to the amber,” Burnett said. Aged in an oak versus steel container, it has “a nice oaky” flavor, he said.

A 2003 Batavia High grad, Burnett is happy to be back home. He had been a professional brewer in Chicago for three years when Eli co-owner Jon Mager gave him a call. Burnett moved back and sees this gig as a long-term venture. He promises three stellar brews at the Square, with another 23 on tap inside Eli Fish at 109 Main St. It’s not much of a walk, just up the back steps from the Square.

Of course, there will also be bratwurst, huge pretzels and other German fare for the choosing, and some benches outside to grab a seat and a bite.

The mayor of Munich taps the first keg to open the festival every year in Germany, and the total beer consumption is nearly 75,800 hectoliters or about 2 million gallons. This weekend’s event may not reach that volume, but plenty of fun is to be had, organizers said.

Admission is $8 presale and $10 at the door, and each ticket includes one free beverage. There are a limited number of tickets, and Burnett advises buying them sooner than later. They may be purchased at Eli Fish or online.

Photo: Via The Frankfurters website.

Eli Fish makes room for a little soul

By Joanne Beck

Myrin and Dannielle Lumpkin are excited, to say the least.

The Batavia couple is in progress for an October ribbon-cutting of Mama Dee’z Kitchen in its new location at Eli Fish Brewing Company.

“It’s happening,” Dannielle said. “October 1st.”

In August, the Lumpkins shared with The Batavian at the Italian Fest that their hopes were on the possibility of moving into the downtown restaurant and brewery. 

At a more recent event, they informally disclosed that it’s coming true, and Eli Fish co-owner Matt Gray confirmed the news this week. Papers have been signed, he said.

The former catering company will now be serving dine-in meals and takeouts, plus be available through Grub Hub, Dannielle said.

She has also posted the news online: “what a blessing,” she said.

The Eli Fish site at 109 Main St., Batavia, has housed prior catering and restaurant set-ups as an incubator style: starting small and learning the ropes before expanding into bigger solo establishments.

Eden Cafe & Bakeshop was the last occupant at Eli, and it moved over to Ellicott Street a few months ago as a successful vegan eatery.

Mama Dee’z specializes in homemade sauces and features soul food and Caribbean flavors, barbecues, chicken wings and a slew of spicy jerk and saucy glazed meats and fish.

For more information about Mama Dee'z, click HERE.

Top File Photo: Dannielle Lumpkin serves up some rasta pasta during this year's Italian Festival downtown. Photo by Joanne Beck. Above, she stands in front of her new work space at Eli Fish on Main Street, Batavia. Photo from the Mama Dee'z online site.

Sponsored Post: Eli Fish hosts 4th Annual OktoberFest this Saturday

By Lisa Ace

Come out to Eli Fish this Saturday from 5 pm - 10 pm to celebrate our fourth annual Oktoberfest! Slap on your lederhosen and dirndls and come celebrate this year's Oktoberfest with us at Eli Fish Brewery in Batavia, NY! This year we'll be featuring live music by the Frankfurters, traditional Oktoberfest dancers, our very own craft beer, games and more! This is not an event to be missed!

Click here for Tickets:
  • $8 Presale tickets
  • $10 at door


Photos: Live music at Eli Fish in appreciation of military service

By Howard B. Owens

The American Warrior Festival organization hosted a music night at Eli Fish Brewing Company to show appreciation for those currently serving in the military and for veterans of all eras. 

Performers included Joel Russlett (top photo), Billy Lambert, Travis Mackie, Rich Hancy, Josh Ketchum, and Monica Hall (bottom photo).

Photos by Howard Owens

Eli Fish project to add seating and an outdoor experience

By Joanne Beck

Zac Condidorio presented a project to expand the offerings, seating and view at Eli Fish Brewing Company during Tuesday’s city Planning and Development meeting.

There would be a wood frame deck, two levels, a patio furnace, brand new canopy to replace the old one, catenary lighting and a brick veneer, said Condidorio of Whitney East Inc. in Rochester. There was only one question neither he nor any committee members knew: was the building on the National Register of Historic Places?

Gray had originally proposed a more elaborate — and costly — “rock cage enclosure as a bench, with some wooden seating” that turned out to be too expensive, Condidorio said.

“He’s eliminated that thought process,” the contractor said. “To make the barrier between the public and the brewery is to have movable planter boxes, and basically, you can move them so that the city can maintain the space in the wintertime.”

There would also be a gate system for people to enter and exit between Jackson Square and the brewery at 109 Main St., Batavia.

Committee Chairman Duane Preston asked about the fire pit that is in the blueprint. That’s “not in my contract,” Condidorio said, “I don’t know what Matt is doing with that.”

Gray, operating under AGRV Properties, Inc. applied for the permit and approval for the approximately $140,000 addition to be built onto the back of Eli Fish and facing Jackson Square. He has also applied for a $20,000 grant from Batavia Development Corp. from its Revolving Loan Fund monies.

BDC’s board and City Council approved the request. Aid from grant funding will allow the applicant to replace the rear, exterior stairs and doors and assist in the cost of adding a large two-level patio attached to the rear of the building.

Condidorio’s building permit application is to construct a wood frame deck with steel frame wall mounted canopy and permanently installed patio furniture with a barrier at the rear of the property. The canopy will be clear roofing material so that the canopy stands out with the decking. There will be some ground level seating, which extends out to the property line, he said, pointing to the enlarged blueprint he displayed for committee members.

Modern catenary lighting, he said, which forms a curve with lights hanging freely from a wire, rope, or chain from two points that are not in the same vertical line, will be featured. Lighting is to flow downward, with no uplighting mapped into the project, he said, emphasizing that it’s to be an industrial style vibe.

Since there are apartments in and around the square, a committee member asked about disturbing neighbors and hours of operation. Condidorio believed Eli was open to 11 p.m., he said, and reviewed the lighting again. According to the company’s online hours, they go to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 9 p.m. on other days.

Gray, who was not able to make the meeting, was relieved to receive a thumbs-up on the project, except for the historic register question. Turns out he knew the answer.

“Yes it is. It was added to the registry in 2018,” Gray said. “We are excited to be able to move forward with Eli's beer garden in Jackson Square. It is a project that's three years in the making, and (he and partners are happy) to finally get to this point in the project. It will seat up to 60 guests on two levels, half which will be covered.”

Condidorio was anxious and ready to begin work on the patio as soon as possible, he said. Eli Fish should be ready before the next Jackson Square concert series, Gray said. 

“We are expecting a May 2023 grand opening on the space,” Gray said.

The Batavian left messages with Preston and Code Enforcement Officer Douglas Randall regarding if and how being on the National Register will alter any of the construction plans or process.

To view the project, click here.

Top photo: Contractor Zac Condidorio shows one of the blueprints of the Eli Fish patio project; the rear space at present to be converted. Photos by Joanne Beck.

First Eli Fish Carnival offers a day full of fun for attendees

By Joanne Beck

A sunny Saturday brought out folks to eat, drink and be merry for the first-ever Eli Fish Carnival in downtown's Jackson Square, Batavia. The event included the brewery company's special craft creations and restaurant favorites, Matty's Pizza slices, live music, vendors and a guest with a few tricks up his sleeve, photo below. 

From left to right, Claire Isenga from New Haven, CT with her children, Henry, 1, and 3-year-old Isla Isenga, spend time with their grandfather, Terry Vanderberg from Batavia, as they watch Jim of Just Clowning Around do a magic trick with cards during the Eli Fish Carnival Saturday in Batavia. Photos by Nick Serrata.


Sponsored Post: Eli Fish's Carnival is Saturday! Get your tickets today

By Lisa Ace

Eli Fish is hosting our first annual Carnival and we're throwing it for the adults in the area that just want to have fun and not worry about bringing the kids for one night. Face paint? Check. Magicians? Check. Live music? Check. Dunk tank? Oh you know it. We'll have beer pong, craft beer, axe throwing, and so much more! So come on down and take a break with us this Saturday from 4 pm - 10 pm • Jackson Square, Batavia! Click here for more information and purchase tickets.

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