GEDC Spearheads Public Private Partnership: German Restaurant, Brewhaus to Open in Historic Depot Complex

20 Aug 2019

Giddings, TX (August 18, 2019) – In recent years, the Giddings Economic Development Corporation has helped turn around distressed properties from one side of the city to the other; has provided grant assistance to new healthcare facilities, new restaurants, and new retail; has recruited a variety of new businesses and has provided training grants to others. 

With the installation of the new lift station currently taking place and the extension of the closed loop water system, which the organization hope to be able to fund within the next year, the organization will also have brought the Giddings 290 Business Park from raw land to the point of being shovel ready for new commercial and industrial clients.  

Now, the organization is turning its efforts toward the revitalization of downtown and already has several new projects on the horizon.

This month, the GEDC, with the approval of City Council, voted to enter negotiations with Zoch Brewing Company LLC, dba Giddings Brewhaus, for a long-term lease of the 3,500 sq foot downtown property previously known as the Sterling Theater building.  Pending TABC approval and upon completion of substantial renovations, the company plans to begin operating a German Restaurant and brew pub by early next year.

“We’ve been laser focused on filling or eliminating high profile empty properties, shoring up local and expanding businesses and filling gaps in services such as healthcare.  With the exception of bringing in Dime Box Distillery, downtown Giddings has been somewhat neglected, but that is about to change,” stated Tonya Britton, Giddings Economic Development Director.

While the GEDC will retain ownership of the Sterling Theater building, the company’s lease will allow them to renovate the property to meet their operational requirements, while also preserving the building’s innate historic character. 

Plans for the renovation include retaining the building’s original footprint, viewing screen and a substantial amount of the original exterior metal skin, while expanding the useable square footage to double the space.  The project calls for adding bathrooms, a kitchen, and a brewing room with glass walls that will allow patrons to see the brewing equipment from within the restaurant. 

With the cost of brewing equipment at this scale typically running around $150,000 and the necessary extension of water and sewer, and electrical upgrades, the cost of the project is expected to come close to the half a million dollar mark.  To help with the renovations, the GEDC agreed to provide a $60,000 grant from sales tax funds, which will be accompanied by a $40,000 grant from Hotel Occupancy Tax funds previously secured by the Friends of the Depot and that have been earmarked for renovation of this specific building. 

The project is being spearheaded by co-owner/ investor Robert Zoch Jr. and his son Robert Zoch III. Also among the management team is Brewmaster Peter Koestler.  The elder Zoch holds a degree in Chemistry and has experience working in commercial breweries, while both Zoch’s have extensive entrepreneurial experience at launching new businesses and in redeveloping historic properties.   

Mr. Koestler, who is certified in process safety management, also holds a Master of Science in Brewing Engineering from the Technical University of Munich. Home to Oktoberfest, Munich has cultivated this celebration of Bavarian culture since 1810.  The festival attracts more than six million people annually and is known worldwide for its German food and brews and has led to spin off events across the globe.

 “When it comes to making this project work, we have a dream team.  Not only is each individual bringing a technical specialization that will ensure the project’s success, but they also each appreciate and understand how to combine heritage and culture with a business model that doesn’t compromise either profits or the preservation of an historic property,” stated Britton.  “This project and the distillery project next door are not just about filling empty buildings.  The projects are about developing public/private partnerships with the right people in the right place at the right time.”

In addition to providing funds for the Sterling Theater renovation, the GEDC board and Council also approved up to $60,000 for the redevelopment of the Giddings Heritage Museum, previously known as the Transportation Museum, and the renovation of the last remaining building in the complex that has not received a facelift, the historic freight station #2. This building, which sites perpendicular to Highway 290, will receive repairs to its external façade including the mural, as well as a new deck.  The award will also include new external water taps, new landscaping and interpretive signage throughout the depot complex. 

“When we leased the freight station to the Distillery, we promised the citizens that we would relocate the museum into the Depot Building and update the exhibits to reflect current consumer preferences, while promoting and respecting the city’s heritage.  We plan to make good on that promise and now have the funds set aside to do so,” said Britton. “We are also adding drought tolerant landscaping as well as external water taps.  Currently, there is no way to hook up a water hose and even drought tolerant plants need to be watered until their roots take hold.  We have also increased our maintenance budget for the upcoming year as the community service personnel who were previously taking care of the complex are no longer legally allowed to do so,” she added.

The new Giddings Heritage Museum which will be located in the brick depot building is expected to open after the first of the year.