The owners of the Bright Eye Beer Company recently received a holiday gift when they were approved by the State Liquor Authority for micro and farm brewer licenses — the last approvals they needed to open their highly anticipated brewery in the heart of Long Beach.
In September 2018, the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously to approve an off-street parking variance for Point Lookout Brewing Company LLC, which owns Bright Eye, for a full-service bar with beer and cabaret at 50 W. Park Ave., a 5,000-square-foot space that was previously home to Long Beach Craft & Variety.
Luke Heneghan, along with his sister Keira and business partner Molly Allare, who co-own the brewery, have worked for more than a year to transform the variety store, which closed in September 2016. Heneghan said the new space features a brewery with 15 stainless steel barrels, a large taproom with 16 taps, refrigerators for wine and soft drinks, and five restrooms on the ground floor.
Heneghan said that he is confident the brewery will open in February, though he did not have an exact date. “Now that we got ago on [the licenses], it’s just about getting these tanks filled up and ready to pour,” said Heneghan, 29, whose family owns J.A. Heneghan’s Tavern in Point Lookout. He added that the fermentation process for the beer takes about a month.
The owners plan to offer a variety of beer, ranging from Kölsch to Hoppy beers, and a variety of pale ales and IPAs. Heneghan also praised their head brewer, Brendan Maxim, who has experience brewing commercially in California and Colorado. Maxim, who is originally from Long Island, has returned to help launch Bright Eye.
While waiting for the brewery to open, the owners have sold merchandise, including shirts, hoodies and beanies with their logo. Heneghan said that about 100 people purchased merchandise, helping to promote the brewery. He added that the name pays homage to the old fishing company in Point Lookout, the Bright Eye Fish Company, which is considered by some the first big industry in Point Lookout.
The brewery will not serve food, but Heneghan said they plan to partner with local food establishments so visitors can bring in food while sipping fresh beer. Heneghan emphasized that he wanted to work with eateries on the same block, including Gino’s, LB Social and Brand’s Delicatessen, among others.
“It’s going to be like an open-door policy, and we’re going to let people bring food and eat here,” Heneghan said. “We definitely want to work the West End restaurants as well.” He added that the brewery would also sell its craft beer to local bars and restaurants.
The brewery has garnered support from the community, including Ian Danby, the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce chairman. Danby said he believes the brewery will do well and praised its homegrown product.
“It will be one of the only places on the barrier island that is actually manufacturing what it sells,” Danby said. “Opening a high street business in today’s economy is no easy task, but the family has plenty of experience, and microbreweries are definitely trending across the country, so it will be nice to have one right in the heart of Long Beach.”
According to the New York State Brewers Association’s website, there are currently more than 430 breweries in the state. Additionally, the site says that New York state craft beer has had an economic impact of $3.4 billion through beer production, sales and the operation of brewery tasting rooms.
The microbrewer license allows the brewery to sell its own beer and all labeled beer produce in New York state, by the glass and bottle. Additionally, the state’s farm brewery law, which took effect in 2013, allows craft breweries to use ingredients grown in New York.
“Looking into this brewery model, we’ve seen across the country how these breweries can positively affect communities and become a place for community gatherings,” Heneghan said. “I hope people in Long Beach see it as a place that they’re welcome and a place that they see as their own.”
The city’s director of economic development, Patricia Bourne, expressed her excitement about the brewery and the opportunities it would bring to the city.
“The city is excited about Bright Eye Beer Company opening,” Bourne said. “Not only will it be a great business addition to the center of the city, but Heneghan’s concept encourages customers to bring in food from local restaurants. They also want the facility to be family-friendly. Besides retail jobs, Bright Eye will be manufacturing its own variety of beers, which will create more jobs. This all sounds like a real complement to the businesses now on Park Avenue.”