DENHAM SPRINGS - Everything has to start somewhere, and a proposed microbrewery just crossed its second hurdle.
There were no comments from the public or questions from the council after Planning and Zoning chairman Fred Banks reported that the conversation from his meeting the night before, centered around the brewery, was positive.
With that, the council voted 5-0 to send the microbrewery to public hearing and a vote on June 11th. The vote will be whether or not to provide a special use permit to Le Chien, owned by Ron Dunham and his son Brett, to open a microbrewrey at 101 Hummell Street in Denham Springs.
The microbrewery is not yet approved, but is one step closer to opening now that the council has approved a public hearing. Should the council receive public comments and approve the project, a special use permit will be issued and Le Chien will then have to go through city building official's office for design and planning.
The permit would allow the establishment to operate at a food-to-alcohol ratio less than what the city considers adequate for restaurants, which is 60-40.
Instead, the microbrewery would be required to operate at 20-80, per state regulations.
Le Chien would serve their very own craft beer, which you 'wouldn't find in stores' according to owner Ron Dunham. The food served would be acquired at a window type setting - and they would offer lunch - but there would be no formal wait staff.
But the microbrewery would go beyond just a place to drink beer and eat some food. The Dunham's will purchase the entire lot that stretches from Hummell to Range for both parking and space to have areas for dogs, a patio for outdoor games, and an area for small bands to play.
"A bar is where people go to have some drinks and meet people," Ron Dunham said, "our microbrewery is a destination."
Dunham and his son, Brett, discussed the economic impact of microbreweries on local economies, as well. According to the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild, Louisiana microbreweries have provided $740 million to local markets, an impact of almost $222 million per establishment in Louisiana.
How? They become that destination.
"You see a lot of these microbreweries open up," explained Ron Dunham, "and then a restaurant opens next door.
"Or, if there already is one," he said, pointing to Amber Dugas, owner of TOLA Cafe in downtown Denham, "they see a boost in sales. Then, a shirt shop, and from there the market grows."
Dunham says that case studies of Hammond and Covington microbreweries show increased travel on the weekend, as well, which brings in foreign dollars to boost tax revenues - especially for gas.