Richmond’s oldest brewery is getting a facelift.
Legend Brewing Co. is renovating its front patio along West Seventh Street in Manchester in the style of an authentic German beer garden.
Dave Gott, Legend’s vice president of operations, said the new patio will feature a large pergola with columns that will provide shade for a spot that gets a lot of sun. Where Legend’s deck, known for its iconic view of downtown from Manchester, enjoys shade from nearby trees, the front patio is more exposed, Gott said.
“It’s southwest-facing, and it’s hotter than Hades out there in the summer,” Gott said. “This will give us some shade, some inclement weather seating.”
The new patio will have ceiling fans and fiberglass panels on top of the structure to provide protection from rain. Gott said it will be finished within a month, and didn’t disclose project costs.
In September, Gott said he was considering renovating Legend’s entire facility. The patio upgrade is separate from that project.
Gott said the bigger renovation is on hold as the brewery changes its strategy, focusing more on additional locations and taprooms.
“We still very much want to do it. But right now, expansion is going to be more toward pubs,” Gott said. “Being able to have our own dedicated pubs in various places, that’s really where the growth is right now.”
Legend is set to open a taproom in Portsmouth in June. Gott wouldn’t say whether more taprooms are on the way after that.
Gott said the focus on taprooms and the added exposure they provide is a change in strategy for the 23-year-old brewery in an increasingly crowded beer market.
“We were geared up to be a production brewery. Our idea was to grow from 10,000 barrels to 15,000 barrels to 20,000 barrels, and we were on that track. Then, we went from having 15 breweries in Virginia to 180,” Gott said.
“Expanding production in the brewery isn’t so much a priority. Expanding out into pubs, expanding our ability to have a stronger on-premise presence – that is. That’s the only way anybody’s making money right now.”
With its Portsmouth plan, Legend isn’t the only area brewery to bookend a renovation project with an expansion. Center of the Universe Brewing Co. completed renovating its flagship facility in August, only to open Origin Beer Lab in downtown Ashland earlier this month.