Great Lakes Brewing Co. (GLBC) kicked off the beginning of its 25th anniversary by unveiling its newly renovated Rockefeller and Market rooms in the Brewpub.
The new upstairs dining rooms include historical brewery artifacts, a wall made from bourbon barrels once used to age the company’s Bourbon Barrel-Aged Blackout Stout, vinyl booths featuring the brewery’s colorful label artwork and tables made from reclaimed wood. The full bar is fashioned from wood salvaged from the Chrysler stamping plant in Twinsburg. The renovation, which began in 2012, almost doubles the available seating for Brewpub diners.
“Fans of Great Lakes Brewing Co. love us for our sustainability efforts and for our support of organic farming,” Pat Conway, brewery co-owner, said. “This renovation manifests our company philosophy of take, make and reuse. We’re committed to the further expansion of Great Lakes Brewing in this city, to growing with Cleveland and to bringing more employment to the area.”
Great Lakes Brewing Co., which is comprised of a brewery and the Brewpub, was founded in 1988 by brothers Pat and Dan Conway as the first microbrewery in the state of Ohio, and today remains the state’s most award-winning brewer.
The Brewpub at 2516 Market Ave. in Ohio City is a merger of three Victorian-era buildings. The Elton, a former hotel, saloon and burlesque house, is now the gift shop and offices. McLean’s Feed and Seed Co. is now the Brewhouse, and the adjacent Beer Garden once served as its livery stable. The Market Tavern was a popular watering hole for Cleveland’s legal professionals, including Eliot Ness, former city safety director and leader of Chicago’s “Untouchables.” When you visit Great Lakes Brewing Co., ask the bartender to point out the bar’s bullet holes, which are rumored to have come from Ness himself. Pat Conway said the beautiful, circa-1860 tiger mahogany bar in the Taproom was built by Brunswick, the same company that builds bowling alley lanes.
Climb the stairs from the Taproom to the Market Room, which now offers bistro tables and booth seating plus a collection of beer memorabilia that includes the ornate headboard of Leonard Schlather, owner of Cleveland’s historic Schlather Brewing Co. The old Schlather facility now houses the GLBC production brewery. The Rockefeller Room, adjacent to the Market Room, is named after John D. Rockefeller, who allegedly toiled as a bookkeeper in that space. “When we bought the building, we knew that John D. Rockefeller once worked as an accountant at a feed store, and we believed it was here. Now, we think that feed store may actually have been in the Warehouse District; so we could change the name of this room to the Barrel Room, or the Barrel-Aging Room,” Dan Conway offered.
There were 30 breweries in Cleveland in the 1870s, Pat Conway noted. “Many of the brewers used to frequent the bars in this area, so the neighborhood seemed like a logical choice for us, with its historical connection,” he added. Since GLBC moved into the area, the city of Cleveland has restored the red-brick Market Avenue to its original Victorian charm, Conway said.