Vanessa House finds a home

Published Friday, June 22, 2018
by Molly M. Fleming

Vanessa House Beer Co. has always had its eye on downtown. But getting there would require money and that would come with name recognition.

The company first brewed its beer at O’Fallon Brewery in Maryland Heights, Missouri. When the Brewers Union opened in Oklahoma City in October, Vanessa House took up residence. It was able to make and sell its beer at a higher profit margin because it didn’t have to ship the product from Missouri.

“We were always looking at buildings in downtown,” said Andrew Carrales, co-owner of Vanessa House.

Developer Jonathan Dodson put NW Eighth Street building owner Adam Fink in touch with the Vanessa House team. Dodson also brought Gardner Architects to the project. The firm designed Stonecloud Brewing Co.’s space for Dodson and his team at the Pivot Project.

Fink is leasing the 118 NW Eighth St. space to Vanessa House. He has also covered some of the construction costs.

The brewery will open in about three months if all the permits get issued in time. But the permits are only one challenge in the opening process. Project manager Hana Waugh learned about how breweries get cleaned while putting together the heart of the operation.

The building is divided into three sections. The first area near the street is where customers will be able to drink the beer from taps and sit at tables or in the furniture on the room’s west side. The comfortable furniture resembles the college dorm where the Vanessa House team met, Carrales said.

The interior has white walls and a wide, chartreuse line that becomes a walkway, or a yellow-brick road, as Carrales called it. There are pops of color on the light fixtures.

“We took a lot of cues from the branding,” Waugh said.

The logo is chartreuse lines with white, open areas. There’s a V at the top center.

There will be a large metal V at the top of the bar area. It’s already emulated by lights hanging from the ceiling.

People can follow the chartreuse walkway through the building, which heads south. In the middle section, a large open window will showcase the brewing stills and wooden barrels. With an existing skylight, the natural light will highlight the brewing process, which will be visible through the large window and the open-window garage door at NW Eighth Street, Waugh said.

But the back part of the building features a brand-new floor, and for good reason.

“The drains they wanted went against the way things naturally sloped,” said Jeremy Gardner, principal of the architecture firm. “The floor sloped to the south.”

With stills everywhere, there was bound to be messes to clean, as the Vanessa House team has learned at the Brewers Union. Waugh visited with Carrales, who had visited with other breweries about where they wish they would have put their drains. With this being their permanent home, Vanessa House didn’t want to create a bad space for cleaning.

The floor was cut out and repoured, with a slight slope toward the room’s center drain, and another slope toward a second drain.

The building renovation cost about $750,000, and Vanessa House will spend another $200,000 on the brewery’s equipment. Carrales said the brewery has been selling a lot of beer, and when the owners can bring people to their own building, they’re hoping sales will increase.

With the move and expected business increase, some team members will move to full-time positions, quitting their regular jobs.

“(The move) is becoming very, very real,” Carrales said.

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