Voodoo Brewing Company isn’t waiting for its Main Street brewpub’s debut to introduce its beer to thirsty Johnstowners.
Meadville-based Voodoo will plant a temporary “pop-up” beer garden in the downtown this spring – anchored by a metal shipping container-turned-bar with eight draft taps, Chief Executive Officer Matteo Rachocki said.
“This is a chance to introduce ourselves and let people know what they can expect from our people, our culture and our liquid,” Rachocki told The Tribune-Democrat.
Voodoo Brewing originally introduced the refashioned shipping container in Lancaster and success there prompted the company to replace the temporary structure with a brick and mortar brewpub there, Rachocki said.
Voodoo also offered a brewpub incubator in Washington, D.C., during summer weekends.
An Allegheny County-based investment group, Incline Development LLC, is partnering with Voodoo to open brewpub franchises in New Kensington and Johnstown.
“We already have plans to open there, but this gives us the opportunity to create a buzz in those communities now,” Rachocki said.
In Johnstown, expect to see the space debut on weekends near the future
brewpub site this spring, he said. Voodoo employees will be behind the makeshift bar, pouring drafts of well-known beers such as Voodoo Love Child and cracking open cans of limited releases and seasonals, such as Good Vibes IPA.
A food truck will join the party, Rachocki said.
Picnic tables and patio furniture will also be set up, “basically just offering people an unpretentious, very chill atmosphere,” he said.
The beer garden’s debut will likely be weather-dependent, perhaps in late April or early May, Rachocki added.
“Generally, we start by operating one day a weekend and build from there, depending on how things go,” he said.
No timetable has been announced for the Voodoo brewpub itself.
Johnstown Economic Development Director John Dubnansky confirmed that efforts were already getting underway inside the former Hey Day Diner to begin clearing out the space for the eventual brewpub renovation project.
Main Street development
The Cambria County Redevelopment Authority on Thursday opened and accepted a $5,500 bid from Incline Development LLC, the company that partnered with Voodoo Brewing to develop the Johnstown brewpub, for the purchase of the vacant building at 523 Main St. in Johnstown, and the empty lot next to that building.
Because the property transactions must still go through a formal closing process, Incline Development has asked to lease the empty lot in the meantime so they can set up their temporary “mobile unit” and start selling products beforehand, Redevelopment Authority Executive Director Renee Daly said.
The other property, 523 Main St., was formerly home to an antique and collectibles shop called Welcome to What Notts. The building is located directly across Main Street from the former Hey Day Diner and future Voodoo Brewing brewpub.
Incline Development LLC officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday, so plans for the 523 Main St. building were not yet clear Thursday.
Tribune-Democrat reporter Mark Pesto contributed to this article.