Southern Railway owners ready new brewery

7 hills building

7 Hills Seafood & Brewing Co. closed after two years in Shockoe Slip. (Mike Platania)

Add a brewery to the holdings of a local bar and restaurant group.

The company behind Southern Railway Taphouse confirmed this week it is preparing to launch Shiplock Brewing in the former 7 Hills Seafood & Brewing space nearby at 115 S. 15th St. The group also owns District 5 in the Fan.

Mark Chavez, who will be overseeing Shiplock Brewing, said it is targeting a mid-May to early June opening.

The 8,400-square-foot space will be reopened as a brewery and restaurant serving lunch and dinner, taking advantage of the equipment left behind after the departure earlier this year of 7 Hills.

“It’s really a turnkey operation,” Chavez said. “We’re waiting on permits from ABC and the city, as well as a few other things that may take a while … but as far as getting the space ready, all that it’s really going to require is some paint and some new furniture.”

To handle the beer side of the business, Shiplock has hired James McGraw, the former head brewer of Colorado-based BierWerks Brewery. McGraw, who graduated from the Doemens Academy in Germany, helped oversee and grow BierWerks’ collection of German-style beers.

“James comes to us with a lot of experience that we need to get the brewery going,” Chavez said.

Chavez said initial plans call for Shiplock’s beers to be served in house, with some to eventually be distributed offsite.

“We’re still trying to figure all of that out logistically,” he said.

7 Hills closed in January after about three years of operation. The space is owned and managed by Fulton Hill Properties, who in late January purchased 7 Hills’ former restaurant fixtures and brewing equipment with an uncontested $25,000 bid.

Shiplock Brewing isn’t the only new venture the Southern Railway group has in the works. Across the street, it’s doubling the size of Southern Railway by taking the second floor above the restaurant to install an arcade, extra dining space and another full bar.

Chavez said the company is pleased with the growth occurring in Shockoe Bottom, pointing to recent additions including Capital One’s 1717 Innovation Center at 1717 E. Cary St. and the CarMax Innovation Center in the Lady Byrd Hat building.

“This is our central business district, and as it grows, the need for more places to dine are necessary,” Chavez said. “We’re looking to add our take to the area.”

Note: This story has been updated to correct the square footage of the space.

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