Two Rivers, Wisconsin — located just north of Manitowoc — is getting a $250,000 Community Development Investment grant to help repurpose a former Wells Fargo bank building into the new brewery.
“Cool City Brewing Company will act as a gathering spot for both community members and visitors,” says Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “This is the type of development that can spark more growth in Two Rivers’ downtown.”
A full-service brewery, restaurant, bar and coffee shop, Cool City Brewing Company will offer seating for 140 indoors and 80 outside. It will also provide a needed dining option downtown, says Elizabeth Runge, Two Rivers’ city planner and community development director.
“An additional restaurant is very much needed within our local economy,” she says. “People travel here to visit from all over, and this will help them stay to eat. Right now, the few restaurants we have are overloaded. This will be another space to offer for both planned group dinners and spontaneous family meals.”
Cool City will have 20 craft beers on tap along with ciders, seltzers and a full bar. Lunch and dinner menus will have a variety of offerings, including some healthier choices. The convenience of a drive-thru space, formerly part of the bank, will offer a full coffee drink selection and will service online food pick-up orders.
Two couples and community investors, Curt and Jean Andrews and Barry and Gina Krahn, were about to purchase the building in April 2020 before COVID-19 put a wrench in their plans. When Wells Fargo put the building up for auction in January 2021, however, they acquired it and began enacting their plan for Cool City Brewing Company.
“It’s been a huge undertaking, but the building itself, specifically the location, was what really enticed us,” Curt Andrews said. “Two Rivers has a heritage of beer manufacturing, and we’re bringing that entrepreneurial spirit back. We’re really excited about what it’s going to do for the community.”
Cool City Brewing Company will have six 10-barrel systems to produce 435,000 pints of beer annually. It will use a Smart Brewing System, the first of its kind in Wisconsin, to minimize waste, speed up production and increase overall brewing efficiency without sacrificing quality. Additionally, the self-cleaning system will reduce the labor needed for sanitization.
Andrews envisions Cool City Brewing Company establishing beneficial relationships with local and regional businesses. For one, Cool City could work with nearby breweries to set up collective brewery tours. Such connections can go beyond beer, though — Andrews sees the potential for partnerships with local food vendors, too.
“Hopefully by partnering with some other local businesses, whether it’s the local cheesecake manufacturer or the local bakery, we can help their businesses grow as well,” said Andrews, who recently served on the Two Rivers City Council for four years and was involved with the city’s economic development efforts. “This will bring some economic inspiration to downtown, and maybe it will help fill spots downtown with people who want to open up businesses.”
Two Rivers is currently redesigning the park adjacent to Cool City Brewing Company, which highlights the current momentum of development and improvement in the downtown area.
“We definitely see this as a catalytic investment within our community, one which could have that domino effect for others to make similar investments,” Runge said. “We’re very thankful for WEDC’s assistance.”
After being delayed by some market and supply chain issues, Cool City Brewing Company is planning to open soon.