CANONSBURG – A McMurray man hopes to open up the first microbrew pub and restaurant in downtown Canonsburg by July 4.
E.J. Kleckner, 27, received a special exemption for commercial zoning Tuesday from the Canonsburg Borough Zoning Hearing Board to brew and sell beer on the premises at 43 W. Pike St. as he takes over the old Toy’s My Way Cafe and transforms it into Rusty Gold Brewing.
“My dad, Earl, came up with the name. It’s referring to finding something in your hunts for antiques and turning it into something valuable. And I believe that’s what’s going to happen here: turning a space into something valuable for people to come and enjoy,” Kleckner said.
Kleckner works at Vintage Secrets, an antique store on Central Avenue, and said that background will spill over into the brewery’s look. “It’ll have a blue-collar, country feel with some industrial vibe, reusing old barn wood and corrugated steel,” he said.
As for the beer offerings, Kleckner wants five standbys for most types of drinkers: an India Pale Ale; a stout, lager; an amber or brown ale; a summer beer like a blonde; and a rotating seasonal beer. But that’s not all, said the businessman.
“We’re going to have cider, wine and mead from local vendors, so a total of about 10 options. And we’ll have food wraps, beef and buffalo sliders, wings; some secret stuff I’m planning. There will be vegan and gluten-free items, and me, being lactose intolerant, we’ll put out menu items in those categories,” he said.
But wait, there’s more. Kleckner got into pitch mode describing his nonalcoholic options. He said he’ll offer cold-brewed, nitro-infused coffee as well as Kombucha, a lightly fermented tea that hovers around a percent or two of alcoholic content. And there will be root beer.
“Not everybody is going to want an alcoholic beverage. I want to be able to offer something different, and especially with the old-style sodas, the sarsaparillas, the cream sodas that people really gravitate to and might even remember family members making in the basement. I want something that a has a connection to an old-style, hand-making feel. We may look into the spiked root beer as well,” he said.
“There are a million trends out there, so you always want to be on the forefront of what the next thing is going to be. Microbrews are hot now, but what’s going to be hot in five years? You want to make others play catch up. Washington County isn’t missing anything per se, but putting a microbrew here will give everyone in the county and in Canonsburg an option for locally brewed beer instead of going all the way into Pittsburgh,” he said.
The tanks are in, but Kleckner still has to secure state and federal licenses and a building permit if he wants to tap into the Independence Day crowds come July.