Friday, May 25, 2018
Business

Brewery plans to open in Ozona on Pinellas Trail

OZONA — Unlike the classic board game, this Candy Lane has no gumdrop mountains, lollipop woods or peanut brittle houses.

But if the owners of Tampa Bay Brewing Company have their way, the short street in Ozona will soon be identified with another type of treat: craft beer.

John and Vicki Doble and their son David began Tampa Bay Brewing Company 18 years ago in Ybor City. They are ready to open a second microbrewery, and they want to do it on Candy Lane, which borders the Pinellas Trail in laid-back Ozona.

The Doble family has offered $1.04 million to Brad, Judy and Todd Kugler, owners of DVA Inc., a wholesale distribution company, for a 23,500-square-foot warehouse at 133 Candy Lane. The closing is scheduled for Nov. 7, according to David Doble.

"We'll start construction the next day,'' said Doble, 36. "We've been thinking about this for quite some time.''

The Ozona brewery will have a 15,000-square-foot production area, Doble said. It will include six tanks for fermenting, two brite tanks (to carbonate the beer) and a 5,000-square-foot packing area where workers will fill kegs or cans. It will also include a tasting room for patrons to sip freshly brewed beer while watching the action on the Pinellas Trail through a large picture window.

Since the Dobles started the business in 1995, they have seen annual sales grow to $3.8 million, Doble said.

They struck a licensing deal this year with a former customer, Norm Lehman, who has opened Tampa Bay Brewing Company Coral Springs.

And they've seen the popularity of their Old Elephant Foot IPA grow, with Great Bay Distributors and Pepin Distributing placing it in select stores on both sides of Tampa Bay.

By the end of 2014, David Doble hopes to hire 75 workers for the Ozona location, including office staffers, production workers and servers. He's hoping for more robust sales of Old Elephant Foot IPA and wants to add at least one more brew to his repertoire.

"We already have a name picked out. It will be called the Reef Donkey. It will have a secret selection of hops with a lemon/citrus and slightly tropical fruit aroma,'' Doble said. "Anyone who has fished this area knows a reef donkey is a nickname for the amberjack, and fishing is a great part of this area. We want it to be all about our locale.''

The Dobles began looking at the Ozona property months ago. Because it's close to Ozona Elementary School and alcohol would be sold there, the Dobles needed a variance from the county board of adjustment, according to John Cueva, zoning manager for the county planning department.

"It ended up that the variance was granted, but with several conditions,'' Cueva said. "They'll need to be reviewed annually, as well as things like dispensing only beer, no hard liquor, and putting extra lighting out in the parking area.''

Ken Donald, a longtime Ozona resident and community advocate, was skeptical when he first heard about the Dobles' plan. This year, Donald was an outspoken opponent of J.C. Craver's, a restaurant that brought late-night crowds when it offered live entertainment. The restaurant closed in June.

So Donald attended the adjustment board meeting.

"I wanted to make sure that the same thing wasn't going to happen again,'' he said. "I'm glad to hear that certain requirements were put in place, and actually, I'm excited. To think of a microbrewery and a product made here in Palm Harbor and sold elsewhere is exciting.''

Doble, who plans to move his wife and two daughters to Ozona by the end of the year, is thrilled that the business has gotten the go-ahead.

"Look, we want to be a feather in Ozona's cap. That's what we've always wanted.''

Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.

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