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New business brewing in Old Town
Couple applies for permit to establish brew pub and restaurant in historic neighbourhood

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Friday, January 31, 2014

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE
A vacant building on the edge of Old Town may become the future site of a brew pub and restaurant, if city council and neighbours support the business development plan.

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Miranda Stevens and Fletcher Stevens, seen here with their dog Burt, plan to open a brew pub on Franklin Avenue on the edge of Old Town later this year. The couple submitted a permit application to city council this month, which is scheduled to be put to a vote on Feb. 24. The pair have canvassed the Willow Flats and Peace River Flats neighbourhoods twice in an effort to reach out to residents. - Daron Letts/NNSL photo

Fletcher Stevens and Miranda Stevens have been reaching out to residents of Willow Flats and Peace River Flats this month as they apply for a city permit to establish a licensed dining spot on the corner of Franklin Avenue and Hamilton Drive.

"We were handing out flyers door-to-door last week and hope to continue some community engagement in the area to field questions and concerns that our direct neighbours have, for the simple fact that we are moving into a well-established area that's been there for quite some time and has some great history," said Fletcher. "We want to be respectful and also become a part of that little community that everybody is so proud of."

The approximately 2,800-square-foot building, which has been unused for about 16 years, formerly housed the Bartle and Gibson plumbing, heating and electrical supply shop, now located around the corner on School Draw Avenue.

"The property has basically been there since the 1960s. The building's location and look has been the same and maintained that way over the years and we do hope to keep it looking similar, but, of course, making it up to code," he said.

The couple stepped away from a previous location under consideration last year -- the former old dinosaur museum on McDonald Drive owned by Wayne Guy because, "the building was not the right fit," said Fletcher. Literally.

The ceilings were too low to house the brewing apparatus needed for their operation, said Fletcher.

The new location, owned by Jeannie Rocher, will be renovated to offer a space with a ceiling that is more than four-metres-high, said Fletcher.

The Stevens plan to brew four of their own beer recipes under their NWT Brewing Company label, such as their flagship Bug Repellent India Pale Ale, as well as seasonal brands offered throughout the year.

The site plan proposes an 85-patron capacity with a seasonal outdoor patio facing Franklin Avenue. Nine on-site parking spots are included in the plan.

"Overall, the community seems pretty receptive," Fletcher said. "But, people do have some concerns. Parking is the issue."

Rosalind Mercredi, owner of Down To Earth Gallery on nearby Bryson Drive, is among the neighbours who are concerned about the parking situation.

"I think it's a good idea," she said. "I like the idea. As a business, I think it would bring more business down to Old Town. As a person who lives down here, my only concern is probably parking."

She said she is confident, however, that the Stevens are taking stock of their potential neighbours' best interests.

"(Fletcher) seems very community-minded. He's been around talking to everyone in the neighbourhood, which I think is a really good plus," she said. "I'm happy for it. I hope it works. There is always a little bit of caution because of the nature of what it could be, but you can't hold things bak because you have a small, little concern. Hopefully if something does arise it will be addressed."

The Stevens' application will be presented to council on Feb. 17, during which the pair will respond to councillors' questions. A vote will be held on Feb. 24.

"After it's announced and voted on by the city then it's returned back to the City of Yellowknife as a whole, where people can put in their concerns, comments and appeals," said Fletcher.

Depending on the nature of public feedback, the permit could be approved March 11, he added.

"We want to take it slow and make sure everything is done right and do it as respectfully as possible," he said. "We're going into an old part of town that's got a lot of heritage and history and the last thing we want to do is disrupt it."

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