PITTSBURG — Thursday, June 20, was Pittsburg’s inaugural “620 Day,” celebrating the city’s area code. Many local businesses participated, including the Jolly Fox Brewery, which, while not yet open for business, offered tours of the brewpub in its current phase of near-completion.
“I just kind of thought with the celebration downtown I’d open it up and let people get familiar with it,” said Joel Stewart, Jolly Fox brewmaster and CEO.
Stewart said the brewery and restaurant are planned to open by mid-September. As of Thursday he had several 310-gallon and 620-gallon tanks, including some already at the brewery as well as others stored at another location, which he said he will soon be setting up to begin brewing.
The Jolly Fox’s bar is partially completed, and there are plans for a fireplace and an outdoor fire pit, along with areas for playing bocce ball and cornhole. Stewart said the brewpub will have several of its own beers on tap when it opens, including two India pale ales, a stout, a brown ale, and a blonde ale, with more to come later on.
“I think that’s a good starting point, and then can kind of expand from there,” Stewart said.
Stewart said he has started posting ads for jobs, including management positions.
Larry Fleury, who grew up in Pittsburg and has been working on marketing for the Jolly Fox, said he was excited to see Pittsburg get a brewpub, which will go beyond the experience of a typical bar.
“This is almost an activity,” Fleury said, “where you can come out and get different brews that are made here in Pittsburg, sit in front of the fireplace during the cold seasons, play bocce ball and cornhole during the warm seasons, and Joel’s just an amazing guy full of energy, and I think people will be just ecstatic to have something like that here in Pittsburg.”
Duke Walter, who was also at the Jolly Fox helping to lead tours on 620 Day, along with several other people is acting as part of “a kind of sounding board or tasting board” for Stewart as he develops his beers.
As a “food nerd” who has experience in the restaurant business, Walter said, he has been impressed with Stewart’s beer and other beverages, which include mead and wine.
“He is producing amazing, amazing products,” Walter said. “He’s thought about it across the entire gamut. He will have stuff for the beer nerds. He will have stuff for the everyday, you know, domestic drinker.”
Rod Pulliam — who works at John's Sport Center in Pittsburg and lives nearby, and who is also a home brewer who has known Stewart for several years — is confident Stewart’s beer “will be popular with craft beer lovers,” he said at the 620 Day sneak peek at the brewery.
“This is the first time I’ve been on the premises since he got the walls up,” Pulliam said. Once the Jolly Fox is open, however, he plans to be there often. “Probably too often,” he said.
Pittsburg State University students who toured the brewery on 620 Day also said they were impressed with the Jolly Fox.
“It sounds like a cool place to hang out,” said Skylar Michelle, a PSU psychology major who visited the brewpub with her friends on Thursday.
“I was expecting just a brewery, like the back side of it, but it’s cool that they’re going to have fire pits and stuff.”
Pittsburg residents Shawn Seematter, who coaches football at St. Mary’s Colgan, and Kaylyn Hite of the Spigarelli Law Firm also said they were excited for the Jolly Fox opening when they visited on 620 Day.
“I think it’s something unique to Pittsburg and something that will go over really well,” said Seematter. “Personally I’m most excited about the patio and the outdoor seating and all that goes with that.”
The beer, of course, is also a draw.
“I like beers and trying different kinds and types of beers,” said Seematter.
“I’m excited more for the food,” said Hite. One thing she didn’t expect was “the modern look of it,” she added. “It’s a look that Pittsburg doesn’t really have, but I think they’re working on getting.”