Orange Township couldn't remain an untapped market forever.
The six partners behind Olentangy River Brewing Co. announced March 1 they plan to open a new craft brewery in late summer at 303 Green Meadows Drive S. Renovation work is expected to begin later this month on an office and warehouse building of about 10,000 square feet; the building previously housed kitchen-remodeling business Ohio Home Pro.
Co-founder Sarah Wilkins said the partners selected the location southeast of the intersection of state Route 750 and U.S. Route 23 because they sensed "a hunger" in Orange Township for a craft brewery and community-gathering space. She said she and her partners were "really surprised" no one beat them to the punch.
"Lewis Center has so much potential with everything that's around it, and you have to travel pretty far to get to a craft brewery," she said.
The neighboring communities of Delaware, Powell, Westerville and Worthington all have at least one craft brewery.
Sarah Wilkins, a Delaware Township resident, said the idea and name for the brewery came from her husband, Ryan Wilkins. The couple were joined in the venture by Darci and Jed Henry of Porter Township and Bethany and Scott Schweitzer of Berlin Township.
Bethany Schweitzer said the business will focus on producing beer for the brewery's own taproom in its first year. She said bottling, canning and distribution of kegs could follow in coming years.
Sarah Wilkins said the brewery will offer a wide variety of beer, from coffee stouts to pilsners and India pale ales.
Beyond beer, the company's founders hope to offer a few rooms that can be reserved for baby showers, parties and other events.
"That seems to be also something that is lacking in the Lewis Center area," Bethany Schweitzer said.
Less than a week after the renovation plans were announced, Sarah Wilkins said the community's interest already had been piqued.
"I've had inquiries about people doing giant fitness classes in the warehouse," she said. "Someone has inquired about having their rehearsal dinner here. We've had questions about parties and corporate meetings. It's kind of taken off already."
Olentangy River Brewing Co. also will set aside room for a coffee bar inside the renovated building. Bethany Schweitzer said the business likely will keep much earlier hours than most craft breweries to allow customers to stop in for their morning caffeine fix.
Sarah Wilkins said the local reaction to Olentangy River Brewing Co.'s plans has been overwhelmingly positive.
"Once we put it out there, everybody just got really excited about it," she said.
Visit the brewery's Facebook page: @OlentangyRiverBrewingCompany or find it on Instagram.