SOUTHINGTON — Witchdoctor Brewing Company is planning to expand its kitchen and patio, along with adding live outdoor music.
Pandemic restrictions and changes in state liquor permitting has shaken up the brewery’s business model, but owner Josh Norris said he’s still moving forward.
Patio liquor and outdoor acoustic music
Witchdoctor is looking to expand the outdoor patio by its main entrance. The brewery is located in the Factory Square Building, 168 Center St.
The expansion, if approved by the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals, would mean a few extra seats at the patio. The larger change, Norris said, is the addition of outdoor music.
“The most exciting part of that is we’re applying to have live music outside, live acoustic stuff,” he said.
The brewery has live music indoors but shows have been few and far between lately. Norris said he’s looking to get musicians to the brewery more regularly.
“I’d like to see someone here most Saturdays,” Norris said.
Kitchen expansion and a new liquor permit
Pandemic restrictions required breweries to serve food along with alcohol. That led Norris to partner with nearby Paul Gregory’s Restaurant to serve food, including small pizzas and quesadillas.
Ashley Malloy, Paul Gregory’s part-owner, said she also partnered with nearby GameCraft, a bar and arcade also in the Factory Square building, to help those businesses get through the COVID-19 restrictions.
The brewery now has a small kitchen area but Norris wants to expand to allow food during special occasions after the pandemic-related food requirement is lifted.
A change in state liquor permitting made Norris consider expanding the kitchen to get his restaurant liquor permit.
The previous type of permit for a manufacturer of beer won’t be available to Witchdoctor. The brewery is now required to choose a restaurant license or a craft café permit.
Norris said he’s chosen the craft café permit, but that prevents him from selling any alcohol made out of state. That’s a big loss to his offerings.
“We’re not going to have scotch or tequila anymore. We’re not going to have Jameson, we’re not going to have Jack (Daniels),” Norris said.
He’s hoping that state legislators change the 2019 law that prompted the new liquor permit regulations.
The state Department of Consumer Protection oversees liquor permits.