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Sunday, March 10, 2013
A Roanoke microbrewery is poised for growth as it begins to offer its signature brew in cans and expand its distribution throughout most of Virginia.
Roanoke Railhouse has offered its beers in 22-ounce bottles since the brewery was started in 2009. The bottles are available at Kroger, some convenience stores and some restaurants.
But brewery owner Steve Davidson said the bottles don't appeal to everyone because of their size. Some restaurants that serve beer only in bottles won't carry 22-ounce bottles, and consumers who want a single serving are turned off by the large size.
Davidson said he believes that offering his brewery's signature beer, Track One, in four-packs of 16-ounce cans will fill that gap.
He also touted other benefits of canning: Aluminum is a better light and oxygen barrier than glass, and it is more environmentally sound because it can be recycled more easily and isn't as heavy as glass, so it takes less fuel to transport.
Davidson has contracted with Old Dominion Mobile Canning, a new company based in Glen Allen, to can Roanoke Railhouse's beer.
The company will set up canning dates with Davidson and bring cans and its mobile canning machine to the south Roanoke brewery on a truck. At the brewery, the canning machine will be set up near the finishing tanks and the beer will be fed into the machine. Davidson's crew will pack the beer and put it in cold storage until distributors pick it up.
Davidson said he decided to work with Old Dominion because investing in his own canning system would be costly and take up valuable space.
The canning business likely will cut into the brewery's bottle sales, but Davidson said he expects to pick up new business at retailers who wouldn't sell the bottles.
Cans should be available in stores the first week of May, Davidson said.
Roanoke Railhouse also has teamed with new distributors to get its brews into stores and restaurants throughout the state. Roanoke Railhouse is also available in much of North Carolina.
The growth is expected to increase Roanoke Railhouse's production needs by 20 percent, Davidson said. He is hiring two more brewers to help meet demand, he said.
New pizzeria coming to Radford
A pizzeria that serves unusually large slices of pie is planning to open its fourth location in the region.
Benny Marzano's started serving New York-style pizza in 2011 in Blacksburg, where it also has a location to handle deliveries. Last spring, the company opened another pizzeria, this one called Benny Marconi's, on Campbell Avenue in Roanoke.
The company's newest location, Benny Nicola's, will open by the end of the month in Radford, said co-owner Zach Toth.
The new pizzeria is on Clement Street in a new development that also houses a 7-Eleven and a coffee shop, as well as apartments on the second, third and fourth floors. It won't offer delivery when it first opens, Toth said.
Toth said he and his business partner, Chris Brown, are financing the new pizzeria themselves, just as they did with the Roanoke location. Toth wouldn't say how much they are investing in the Radford eatery.
Their made-from-scratch 28-inch cheese and pepperoni pizzas have been a hit, Toth said. Several of their friends are interested in opening new locations, and Toth and Brown are trying to decide whether it would be better to pursue a franchise or ownership expansion.
"We never want to have a franchise feel," Toth said.
The business partners are 2006 Virginia Tech alumni who left Blacksburg for careers in architecture and business consulting. They returned to Blacksburg to start Benny Marzano's because they said they missed the community.
Promenade Park to get face-lift
A southwest Roanoke County shopping plaza is getting a new look.
Promenade Park, on Electric Road across from the Shoppes at West Village, is getting a new facade, said Dennis Cronk, one of the property's owners. Cronk is also president and CEO of Poe and Cronk Real Estate Group, which manages the plaza.
"We felt it needed a face-lift to give it a more modern and appealing look," Cronk said. The plaza was constructed in 1984 and hasn't been changed since then, he said.
Work to replace the red metal and brick facade will begin in late April or early May and is expected to be complete by fall.
The new facade will be neutral colored and about 5 feet taller.
Cronk said he doesn't yet know how much the work will cost because the contract is still out for bid.
Promenade Park is nearly 100 percent occupied. Recent tenants to join the plaza include Neathawk Window and Door Gallery, Wine Gourmet and Glazed Bisque-It.
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