The waiting is the hardest part.

The owners of 2 Tones Brewing Co. are living the words of the late songwriter Tom Petty while adding the final touches to their new 3,400-square-foot taproom at 4539 E. Broad St. in Whitehall.

"We knew there would be a lot of work (to open), but it still took longer than we expected," co-owner Anthony McKeivier said April 1 while he, his business partner Tony Hill and their two full-time employees unloaded barroom furniture.

The microbrewery passed its final inspections March 29 and is waiting for the issuance of final permits, expected as soon as mid-April, McKeivier said.

McKeivier said the microbrewery and taproom, which will open as soon as the permits are received, represent the transition of a hobby into a successful business.

"I'm excited and anxious to get started. I'm ready for it all," he said.

McKeivier, 32 and Hill, 31, met as fifth-grade students on a soccer team, then found themselves at the same junior high school and high school in Circleville.

They later became roommates at Ohio State University, where the story of 2 Tones Brewing Co. begins.

Hill had discovered craft beers, but it took a little persuasion to convert McKeivier.

"It was Tony (and his brother) that turned me on to craft beer. I was still drinking Bud Light and Coors and they kept pushing me to try craft beers. They finally pushed hard enough and I tried one ... there was no going back," McKeivier said.

"Yeah, we had to push it on him ... he wasn't used to that much flavor (in a beer) ... but he found a style he liked and acquired a taste (for craft beers)," Hill said.

McKeivier said he can't recall the label but remembered they were India pale ales, known as IPAs.

He liked them so much that he and Hill bought a home-brewing kit and began making beer in McKeivier's garage in Reynoldsburg.

They practiced with a variety of recipes and styles and honed their skill well enough by 2013 to win best of show in the Barley Brewing Co.'s home-brew competition for their IPA.

In 2016, they invested $100,000 to purchase the necessary equipment and lease a facility to begin producing at least 100 barrels a year.

That process began in August 2016 and continued to grow at their original location at 145 N. Hamilton Road.

The beer brewed at North Hamilton Road was sold at several places, including the Mellow Mushroom, the Ohio Tap Room, Red Brick Tavern in Marion, Millstone BBQ in Logan and Barley Hopsters in Delaware.

When the brewery opened at North Hamilton Road in 2016, it produced about 10 barrels a month but doubled that quantity the next month, McKeivier said.

The partners invested about $250,000 for construction of the new 2,400-square-foot brewery and 1,000-square-foot taproom, which features space-themed murals. An additional $150,000 was invested for equipment and furnishings.

The facility does not have a kitchen, but food trucks will be available in the brewery's parking lot at the southeast corner of East Broad Street and Santa Maria Lane. The hours of operation are not set in stone, McKeivier said.

It is likely the brewery initially will be open Wednesdays through Sundays, with hours from lunchtime until about 10 p.m. or midnight most operating days, McKeivier said.

The brewery's capacity stands at about 310 gallons, or 10 barrels, a week; it produces 12 styles of beer, including its flagship Irish red ale, Uncle Joe's.

Other styles include a double IPA, Space Lazer; a vanilla ale, Crumble; a hazy IPA, Magic Gnome; and a coffee porter, Irish Maiden.

Growlers, or large containers that allow customers to take beer home with them, will be available, Hill said.

"Growlers are a new ballgame for us," he said.

No bottles or cans will be made for now, Hill said.

The beer is made by McKeivier, Hill and two assistant brewers, Zane Lalli, 29, of Whitehall and Justin Arledge, 31, of Circleville, who were hired late last year as the company's first employees.

For now, McKeivier is keeping his full-time job as an accountant for an automotive-parts supplier, but Hill began working full time for the company as its production increased at the first location.

The brewery's East Broad Street location last operated as Ideal Precision, a company that calibrated instruments.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo