Thanks to the COVID-19 coronavirus, Wetstone Beer Co.’s last call has come before its doors had a chance to open.
The craft brewery and taproom that was to open this spring in the former Clintonville Outfitters store, 2864 N. High St., has fallen victim to the economic crunch in the wake of the pandemic, said Massie Lawson, a member of the company’s leadership team.
“Wetstone started as a dream and will end as one,” Lawson said.
Fellow Wetstone leadership team member Don Cotter confirmed in a text message that the company will not move forward with its plans, which also included a Gahanna production facility and tasting room.
“We were still waiting on our license transfer for our tasting room in Gahanna when the shutdown happened,” Lawson said.
“Without any way to bring in revenue, and no way to know when our tasting room could open, the owner ... decided to sell the equipment and cut his losses. (The Wetstone team) were offered the option to purchase the equipment and business.
“We did not feel comfortable taking on a huge loan during this time and could not in good conscience crowd-fund during a global pandemic.”
Clintonville Area Commission member David Vottero, who represents District 1, where the taproom would have been located, said the news is disappointing, but understandable, given the uncertainty brought by the pandemic and related restrictions.
“I hope that plans might move full circle for Wetstone and that they find the right place at the right time,” Vottero said. “I wish them success with whatever direction they take their business.
“I think the site remains a great location and hope that another redevelopment opportunity for the historic building emerges as we begin to adapt to some new realities and a different economy.”
Evan Fracasso, project manager for the site, said he was not aware of Wetstone’s status, but the site remains viable for a restaurant or brewpub under the conditions of a variance granted by the city of Columbus last fall.
“We still plan on redeveloping the property with a bar/restaurant user in the front and a retail user in the back portion,” Fracasso said via email. “Everything going on with ... COVID-19 has slowed the timeline with the building.”
In December, Lawson said the company was excited to begin making beer and to serve as a neighborhood gathering place in Clintonville.
“We all love Clintonville and we’d like to be thought of as the neighborhood’s taproom,” Lawson said then. “We’ll have a nature and outdoors-y theme, which draws on the history of the building with Clintonville Outfitters.”