Beer project brewing in city
JOHNSTOWN – Although he hasn’t submitted anything formal to the city, a New Jersey man who owns a building on Bridge Street wants to turn it into a local beer distributorship.
Jerry Kuziw of Towaco, N.J. – current president and owner of Brewski Brewing Co. – said Thursday he is eyeing the former Bike Works building he owns at 7 Bridge St. as a potential new beer operation. He has formed Brewski’s Brewery, LLC.
“We are a registered wholesale beer distributor,” he stated.
Kuziw originally wanted to build a microbrewery at property he owned on West State Street, but it went up in flames on April 24, 2008, accidentally started by a metal cutter. The site of several buildings he once owned is now a large open field on West State Street.
Another building Kuziw owns also caught fire in November on Bridge Street. In that fire, Douglas M. Eckler, 19, of 45 Yost St., was charged with one felony count of fourth-degree arson and one misdemeanor count of trespassing.
“Seems like I’m not able to catch a break yet with Johnstown, with these fires,” Kuziw said.
Kuziw has said since the 2008 fire that he has always wanted to still do something with a business for Johnstown. He said the original project he intended at the former Bike Works building was to put in an actual brewery as a “tourist attraction.” But now he said he wants to use the Johnstown building as a wholesale site. He said one of his friends – Greg Zaccari of New Jersey – is a beer bottler in that state and has won numerous awards for his brewing operations.
“We are contracting through him,” Kuziw said.
Kuziw and his family have been involved in development of buildings and real estate in Manhattan for about 50 years. At the time of the 2008 fire, he owned the Burpcastle Bar in Manhattan and formerly owned Brewski’s Beer Bar in that borough.
Kuziw said he wants to branch out in upstate New York.
“I would love to engage with all of New York state’s microbrewers,” he said.
He said he wants to get “local citizens” excited about his venture, but didn’t say how that would happen.
“I believe it really takes a village to get it together,” Kuziw said.
Fire Chief Bruce Heberer, city code enforcement officer, said today Kuziw hasn’t contacted him about altering any of his buildings.
Kuziw said the winter weather prevents him from being too ambitious at this point, but at some point he would like to see his plan of distributing a “golden lager” beer from Johnstown come to fruition. He envisions a plan of working with New York state farmers to produce grains he can introduce into the hops and beer he wants to produce.
“I think that’s the real long-term play,” Kuziw said. “I think Fulton County could be the hop center, as far as growing. Johnstown could just explode.”
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org