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Barker Brewing has expansion plans on tap

BARKER – The Goodlanders soon hope to have more good news for Barker.

Greg and Erin Goodlander, owners of Barker Brewing in the heart of the village, have expansion plans that include a homebrew supply shop, banquet hall, new brewhouse, and even a small inn.

These ambitious plans will get underway when the survey is completed and the Goodlanders can close on the sale with the owner, the Village of Barker, for a 4.33-acre site that includes three vacant one-story buildings. Greg Goodlander is hopeful the sale of the property adjacent to his craft brewery at 1693 East Ave. will be completed within the next couple of months. The village and the Goodlanders recently signed an agreement of sale.

It can’t be soon enough for this experienced carpenter, who said a taste of warmer spring weather has him anxious to start work.

“The property is beautiful,” he said. “It also gives us an additional nearly four and a half acres with grassy areas and a creek running through it.”

In the meantime, Goodlander will soon begin construction on a new “beer garden” adjacent to the covered deck he built last spring off the rear of the existing Barker Brewing building.

“We’ll have trees, flowers, seating and lighting, and we hope to have it done by the Barker Schools’ Alumni Weekend in mid-June,” he said.

The Barker Brewing building is located on the grounds of the former Birds Eye Corp. processing plant site. Birds Eye provided housing for migrant workers there, as well, and later sold the larger portion of its property to Mayer Bros. for warehousing, and the smaller, seven acres to the village in 2007 for $20,000. Village officials at the time hoped to use the property to attract small businesses.

The Goodlanders purchased what had been the migrant workers’ cafeteria building in 2011 and set to work converting it into a small craft brewery and restaurant. They opened Barker Brewing in October 2014. By adding the covered deck last year, Goodlander said they doubled their seating capacity.

The project has been family-oriented since the first day. Goodlander continues to act as head brewmaster, and while he said he’s vacated the day-to-day kitchen duties, he continues to do all of the outdoor barbecuing. Erin, a substitute teacher, helps out regularly, as does her sister, Emily, and her father, Bill Smith, as well as her cousin’s wife, Kim Matheis, and the Goodlander children when they are available. Assorted other family members pitch in as needed.

A professional cabinet-maker, Goodlander did the renovation work himself, with help from Smith. When the Goodlanders purchased the former 50-year-old cafeteria – one of six buildings the village originally purchased on the site – it already had utility hook-ups.

Access to utilities will prove more of a challenge for the next round of renovations. The three buildings the Goodlanders are set to purchase served as dormitories for the migrant workers and the land is zoned for light industrial use. The entire 4-plus-acre parcel, with buildings, is assessed at $56,200.

“The buildings are in pretty poor shape, but they are concrete, so they are still salvageable, and they lend themselves to what we want to do,” Goodlander said.

“We do have electricity to the one building, which is Phase I of our project, and that’s to put a cooler in, so that we can make more beer,” he said. “I’m at capacity right now, with just under 1,000 gallons per year, because I don’t have the cooler space. I brew one batch a week. With a new cooler, I’d be able to brew every day. We’re at three barrels a week and we could go to 21 barrels a week.

“We’ve had interest for distribution, but I don’t have the room to do that now,” he said. “If we could do that, it would be some additional income.”

Goodlander said Phase I also includes moving all of the beer-making equipment into the new building to create a new “brewhouse,” complete with a shop up front selling equipment to home brewers.

“Right now, everyone who lives in this area has to go to Buffalo or Rochester for supplies,” he said.

Goodlander said the Phase I plans are intended for the smallest of the three buildings, which is about 50 feet by 50 feet.

“Pretty quickly thereafter, we’d like to turn the second building, which is 40 feet wide by 60 feet long, into an events area,” he said, explaining Phase II of the project. “This would be good for weddings, for example. We have quite a few now, but we only hold about 50 people inside, maximum, and we’ve had interest from other groups for larger events.

“This building will have an open interior and a catering kitchen, so people can also bring their own caterers in for a different menu,” he said. “We’re looking at being able to seat about 200 in there, which would be quite an increase.”

And, Phase III, perhaps five years or so down the road, includes plans for an eight-room inn in the third vacant building, Goodlander said.

“There are just no places to stay here,” Goodlander said of the tiny village of Barker. “This would be nice so that if someone did have a wedding, there would be rooms. The building is laid out nicely for this.”

Goodlander said he and his wife are planning on financing the entire project themselves if they can.

“We are reinvesting what we’ve been making,” he said. “We are reinvesting in the community. And this is what should be done in smaller communities. The support here has been unbelievable.”

He added that he is already looking to hire more help for the busy season and will add even more employees when these next phases of development are underway. But he still intends to keep family on hand.

“We don’t want to lose that connection,” he said. “We want to keep that closeness here. We want everyone who comes through our door to feel welcome. We always say, ‘Hello’ or ‘Have you been here before?’

“People comment about that all of the time here,” he said. “They say, ‘I want to come back and bring other people.’ And we’d never be able to do this here, in Barker, if people didn’t love coming here. It’s a really comfortable place with good food and good beer and we want to keep that atmosphere. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”