Craft beer enthusiasts, rejoice: Windermere Brewing Company’s taproom and microbrewery in downtown Windermere is officially underway.
Town staff, council members, friends and family gathered at the site — 111 W. Fifth Ave. — for a small groundbreaking ceremony and beer toast Friday, April 30.
Co-founders Dr. Joe Ata and Andy McGhee have worked since 2017 to bring their vision to life. For the past few years, they have been brewing their beer at McGhee’s house.
Windermere Town Council members approved plans for the taproom and microbrewery last fall. A house that previously sat on the site was demolished, and dirt is turning now to bring the 2,519-square-foot commercial building to life.
Last fall, McGhee said the building’s design is meant to pay homage to the town and what it would have looked like in the 1920s. It will also feel much like a lake house — a tribute to the town among the lakes.
“There hasn’t been a redevelopment in the town of Windermere — especially within the downtown area — for over 20 years, so they were pretty much the guinea pig,” Town Manager Robert Smith said. “They were very patient with not only staff, but also they wanted to make sure the community was involved in the look, the feel, the design. When you talk about developers and development, they did it right.”
Speaking also as president of the Windermere Police Department Foundation, Smith thanked Ata and McGhee for their support of the foundation from the beginning.
“The only way that we’re able to do a lot of charity events, to put on programs … we need the help of not only residents but also the support of community and businesses,” Smith said. “When Windermere Brewing actually came to fruition, they were the first ones to jump on board with helping us raise funds and raise awareness for the Windermere Police Department Foundation.”
Mayor Jim O’Brien added that it takes great people, businesses and institutions to create a great community like the one in the town of Windermere.
“The measured growth that you see in our town is partly due to a lot of the things we’ve done to be careful with that, and it’s hard and scary to start a business in good times and in tough times,” he said. “The measured growth that you see in our town today — with the new, state of-the-art town facilities, talk of new and improved downtown businesses on the 500 block, and a great new example with the Windermere Brewing Company where we stand today — is proof that looking forward with a small but smart approach works really, really well for us and our neighbors.”
Ata said his and McGhee’s dream for Windermere Brewing Company was born out of a passion and love for the town of Windermere. They hope to be able to open their new facility by the end of the year.
“My hope is that this brewery will be the manifestation of that community — a place where we can all come together, a place where we can grow together,” Ata said. “That was made possible by the love and support of all of our citizens and our council.”