Architectural rendering of new facade
Veteran brewer Joel Warger and his wife and business partner Rosemary Mudry will open Midnight Owl Brewing Company
in Shaker Heights. The brewery currently is taking shape in the former Lucy’s Sweet Surrender space on Chagrin Boulevard near Van Aken District. The brewpub will share that property with Mendel’s Kansas City BBQ
, both of which are on track to open in the coming year.
Mudry, who will retain her position as Executive Director at West Park Kamm's Neighborhood Development, says that she and her husband have been exploring new ways to further enrich the community they love.
“Joel and I have been interested in doing our own thing for a while,” Mudry explains. “Joel has gotten a lot of experience in the industry, and I think it’s exciting to do something yourself. We’re both passionate and devoted Clevelanders so it makes sense to want to be able to invest in Northeast Ohio – to put our money where our mouth is.”
Warger worked at Great Lakes Brewing for 14 years before moving over to Goldhorn Brewery, where he was opening brewmaster and has continued on as head brewer for seven years.
When it opens next summer, Midnight Owl will be the first traditional brewery in Shaker Heights. It will join nearby Craft Collective at Van Aken District, which does the bulk of its brewing at sister establishment BottleHouse Brewery in Cleveland Heights. A recent ballot measure to allow Midnight Owl (and Mendel’s) to sell alcohol in a previously dry precinct passed earlier this year.
“People in Shaker have expressed to us for awhile that they would love to have a brewery in their neighborhood and so it felt like a good time and good spot to go for it,” notes Mudry.
Midnight Owl will feature a 10-barrel brewhouse, which will be visible to the rest of the space through glass. Warger believes that recent trends in brewing find consumers increasingly in favor of smaller neighborhood breweries over those geared toward large-scale production and distribution.
“I think one of the trends we’re seeing in the industry is that people are starting to want that brewery in their neighborhood, in their suburb,” Warger explains. “A place where you can develop a relationship with the brewer and the chef. People like the hands-on approach.”
Midnight Owl is described by the owners as a brewpub that will combine Warger’s craft beer with a full menu of gastropub-style fare. The goal is to be approachable, accessible and inclusive. Guests can expect contemporary pub fare that will satisfy happy hour snackers on up to groups in search of a full sit-down dinner. Plans call for 84 seats in the dining room with another dozen at the bar. A patio that connects to the main space via garage doors will be added to the front of the building.
“It’s not an industrial building, so we’re going for something a little bit warmer,” Mudry says about the vibe. “We want to lean into making the space feel bright but also really comfortable.”
Warger’s approach to brewing is inclusive as well, with plenty of core drafts and rotating seasonals that will cover a broad range of styles. The goal is to always have something for everyone – even customers who don’t necessarily want a beer.
“We see it as a place where people can come regardless of how passionate they are about craft beer,” adds Mudry. “We want it to be a neighborhood gathering spot. We feel like Shaker is a neighborhood where people want to come together and build community and we see a brewery as a place where people can do that.”
Warger and Mudry will be adding momentum to the area being dubbed Van Aken District South, a burgeoning strip of new businesses across Chagrin Boulevard from Van Aken District proper. Their new neighbors include Century Cycles, Gentlemen's Cave Luxury Barber, and Mendel’s Kansas City BBQ.
“We definitely see a lot of synergy being able to take place between the two sides of the street and hope that us coming there will further connect the neighborhoods together,” says Mudry.
If everything goes as planned, look for Midnight Owl to open early next summer.