After more than two years of renovations, Azalea Brewing Co. is slated to open in late November or early December.
Owner Andrea Conover said the buildout is almost finished, but she is waiting on installing air conditioning and other interior cosmetics.
Though the large stainless-steel containers sit idle now, Conover said she hopes to start brewing next week. The brewery has been giving out samples of its beer at events and will be hiring a taproom manager as well as one full-time and part-time bartender.
A portion of the old Coca-Cola building, 120 Seventh St., will eventually be transformed into the brewery’s restaurant area.
“We want this to be a community gathering place and support things going on in the city,” Conover said.
Inside the business, there is tall brewing equipment on the left and the bar and taps on the right with open space. Across from the children’s area is a mural depicting the natural beauty of the area, Conover said.
“Hopefully, the community supports us,” Conover said. “We’re trying to promote Putnam County as a tourist destination and for people to enjoy our natural resources, whether you’re on the trails or if you’re into fishing, hiking or boating.”
On the production side, head brewer Eli Miranda said the company would bring additional attention to the city. He said Azalea Brewing Co. being the first brewery in Putnam County is significant.
“We’re hoping our brewery will be a destination spot for people to stop by bring commerce to the area, which is basically needed,” Miranda said. “We need to open more shops and attract people to the beauty of what Palatka is.”
Miranda said he’s been waiting a long time for the brewery to open and it will feel like a weight off his shoulders when he sees people come in to enjoy craft beer.
“It’s going to be something I’ve been waiting for a while,” Miranda said. “For me, it’s going to be like, ‘Wow, we finally did it. Thank the Lord.’”
Conover said the COVID-19 pandemic made the process to acquire the building permit take a bit longer than expected. When the brewery opens, Conover said, she will take precautions, have hand-sanitizing stations and ask people to wear masks.
“If we had been open (when the coronavirus closed businesses), it would have been pretty devastating to switch to, ‘Nobody can come here,’” Conover said.
Next month will mark two-and-a-half years since Conover bought the building. Seeing it become reality is an exciting prospect and worth the hard work, she said.
“It’s a complex project. People have been helpful and I’m excited. This is where it gets real,” Conover said.
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