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Center of the Universe announces new production facility, taproom in Ashland

Origin Beer Lab will produce specialty, small production brews, including sour beers.

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Center of the Universe Brewing Company, which recently overhauled its original taproom and production facility on Air Park Road in Ashland, announced this morning it will expand to a second location in historic Downtown Ashland.

The new facility, Origin Beer Lab, will focus on the science of beer brewing and contribute towards the redevelopment of Ashland’s historic Main Street. The brewery broke ground on the new location last month. Located at 106 South Railroad Avenue, the space was formerly home to The Chiffarobe Fine Antiques and Gifts. The brewery expects the spot to open later this fall.

Origin will produce specialty small production brews including sour beers. “One of the reasons we love making beer is experimenting with new flavors and techniques,” said COTU co-founder Philip Ray. “Origin will allow our brewers to explore some innovative and creative brewing without impacting the capacity of our current operation. Our inner nerds are very excited about this project.”

While Origin’s beers will not join COTU’s distribution line up, the approximately 50-seat taproom in a main tourist attraction will add to COTU’s bottom line.

“As an Ashland resident, I have been extremely impressed with The Main Street Association’s progress in revamping downtown Ashland,” said co-founded Chris Ray. “Our goal outside of the practical applications for the brewery, is to assist and build upon Main Street’s progress and bring to light the wonderful area that I call home. My goal is that the residents of Ashland take as much pride in Origin as I do in the town.”

Origin will produce approximately 30 barrels of beer per month. The taproom will include indoor and outdoor seating, merchandise, and availability for packaged beer to go. “We are taking design inspirations from 1950’s mad scientists.”

The new facility follows a line of expansion efforts made by COTU. In February, the brewery increased brewing capacity in order to expand distribution into Northern Virginia. They also added a rotary canning line, the first in Virginia, and went through a complete remodel of their tasting room to increase capacity.

To support all the growth, the Ray brothers tapped Richmond marketing consultant and former restaurateur Sarah Choi as the general manager to oversee taproom operations, private event sales, and marketing. “Sarah’s passion is what drew us to her for this position. Her entrepreneurial spirit she showed while opening Shoryuken Ramen and her generosity and compassion demonstrated through events like RVA Pancake Love make her a perfect addition to our team.”

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Arts & Entertainment

Axe-throwing chain set to open near The Circuit Arcade Bar in Scott’s Addition

The venue will open in the former Nicholson Sprinkler Corp. building at 3100 W. Leigh Street in the heart of the neighborhood.

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From Richmond BizSense:

After its first attempt to get into the Richmond market fell flat, a Canadian axe-throwing bar is back with a location coming to Scott’s Addition.

Bad Axe Throwing is preparing to open at 3100 W. Leigh St. in a 5,000-square-foot space in the old Nicholson Sprinkler Corp. building.

Based in Ontario, Bad Axe has nearly 50 locations throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. In 2018, it began planning a Richmond location on West Broad Street, across from the forthcoming Whole Foods in Sauer Center.

But those plans fell through last spring. Bad Axe owner Mario Zelaya said there was an issue about the amount of parking available at that location, which caused them to scrap the plans.

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Business

Nine-acre Elks Lodge property near Innsbrook slated to be transformed into mixed use development

Highwoods Properties paid $3.3 million for the nine-acre Elks Lodge near Innsbrook After Hours and plans to mull over mixed-use, high density options for the site.

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From Richmond BizSense:

One of the biggest landlords in Innsbrook has amassed more land in the area, this time snagging a block of acreage next to the site where the Innsbrook After Hours concert series is held.

Highwoods Properties last month bought the Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks Lodge No. 45 property at 10022 Elks Pass Lane in Henrico. It paid $3.3 million for the 9-acre assemblage, which adds to another 12 adjacent and largely undeveloped acres the company already owns.

Jane DuFrane, Highwoods’ vice president and local market lead, said the company still is mulling options for the Elks land and adjacent sites, including developing a “walkable community with a mix of uses.”

“The Elks Lodge property’s contiguous proximity to our other land holdings and existing office buildings made it a natural fit for our portfolio,” DuFrane said in an email.

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Business

Container Store, Chase Bank taking over two adjacent properties at Short Pump Town Center

The former hhgregg appliances and electronics store and neighboring Matchbox restaurant are being transformed into two new-to-Richmond brands.

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Two neighboring properties at the entrance of Short Pump Town Center are set to be transformed into homes for two new-to-Richmond brands – both as reported by Richmond BizSense.

The former Matchbox Restaurant on W. Broad Street is currently being eyed for a new Chase Bank, BizSense says. Plans have been filed to transform the two-story building into a bank and drive-thru. Read more about the plans here.

Across the road, the former hhgregg appliance and electronics store – originally built as a Circuit City – is being rehabbed into a new location for The Container Store, which sells home organization and storage solutions. Check out progress of the transformation here.

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