Developer plans to open liquor distribution business in former Meriden brewery building

Developer plans to open liquor distribution business in former Meriden brewery building


MERIDEN — A local development company hopes to turn part of a former brewery on South Colony Street into a liquor distribution warehouse.

John Adu, principal of Contento Development, has filed an application for a permit with the state’s Liquor Control Commission to open a warehouse operation in part of the building at 137 S. Colony St., which was built more than 120 years ago.

“It’s a liquor distribution center for local retailers,” Adu said. “Our customers will come from Meriden. Stamford and Milford are the big distributors, there are none here.”

Adu does not need city permission to open the distribution operation on South Colony Street because it is an accepted use in the 16,400-square-foot warehouse. He said he is waiting for state approval before moving forward with purchasing a fleet or hiring more personnel. The business would be separate from Contento Development and would allow for about three more employees.

“It is a team job,” he said.

Associate City Planner Paul Dickson has met with Adu and said he plans on importing foreign liquors in addition to his distribution operation. The operation would be strictly wholesale with no direct sales from the building.

“Wholesale distribution is an allowed use in the zoning,” Dickson said.

Adu plans to use 1,100 square feet in the brick building that also houses Pan Afrikan Express, a freight service for customers who want to ship items overseas. Abe Agyeman has owned the building since 2007, and also owns Pan Afrikan.

The Meriden Brewing Co. established in 1887 operated in the South Colony Street building. The brewery operated independently until 1890 when it was consolidated with a similar plant in Bridgeport. Collectively, the two became known as the Connecticut Breweries Co.

The location was next to the railroad line connecting New York, New Haven and Hartford. But the brewery suffered during prohibition and never fully regained its former place in the beverage world and closed several years before World War II, according to a 1983 Meriden Record article.

The Meriden branch of the Connecticut Breweries Co. produced lager beer, ale and porter, as well as “special brands that had become “somewhat celebrated throughout the country,” such as “Golden Pale Ale,” and “Pale Extra Lager,” notes the book “A Century of Meriden.”

After it closed, the building never reopened as a brewery. Instead it housed a tire sales venture and a furniture company. A fire in 1979 gutted the building and collapsed its roof.

It was purchased in the early 2000s by John Godwin, owner of Advanced Turbine Services, who wanted to turn it into a turbine engine repair and restoration business. Godwin changed his mind due to the cost and work to renovate the building. In 2006, city officials unsuccessfully tried to woo Trout Brook Brewing Co. of Hartford to return it to its former use.

Agyeman bought the building in 2007 from Godwin and restored much of it to make it usable as a shipping warehouse. Adu’s development company assisted with the renovation.

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