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A Curtis Park microbrewery that plays up Sacramento's railroad history is one step closer to opening after winning approval from the city Planning Commission.
Southern California transit analyst Ryan Graham and Sacramento mortgage underwriter Geoff Scott said they hope to start working on an adaptive reuse of a
2,100-square-foot space inside a warehouse at 3747 W. Pacific Ave., near Sutterville Road and 24th Street, within a month.
The Sacramento Planning Commission voted 8-1 Thursday night to grant a special permit for alcohol sales in the tap room and a special permit to waive a parking space.
After the vote, Graham, Scott and Scott's wife, Water Education Foundation Events/Tour Director Rebecca Scott, headed over to the warehouse and celebrated the victory with their home-brewed Big Four Strong Ale. The beer is named for the four railroad barons who built the Central Pacific Railroad.
"We're both home brewers, but we decided to take our passion and our hobby to a different scale," said Graham, who lives in the Southern California town of Beaumont.
Graham, 32, has been brewing beer at home for eight years. He's also volunteered at Inland Empire Brewing Company in nearby Riverside. For six or seven years, Scott has been making small batches of beer to share with family and friends.
They plan to feature “artisanal” beers made in the "firmly hopped" tradition of the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast. The hops impart more aroma and bitterness. Other parts of the country are now following the West Coast style by expanding hop usage in beer, said Scott, a 33-year-old Curtis Park resident.
The beers will be inspired by American, Belgian, English and German brewers. Scott and Ryan will combine influences and recipes for beers such as porters, stouts, strong ales and IPAs.
His family has lived in Sacramento since the early 1920s. Scott's great-grandfather was a farmer who used trains and the rail lines to transport produce to other parts of California.
He and Graham became friends while attending the University of California, Davis. Graham now works on railroad projects, which is partly why they chose Track 7's name and the location in a warehouse near old Western Pacific railroad tracks.
"We wanted to tie in Sacramento's history with the railroad," Scott said.
The Sacramento Planning Commission's support was needed to get a small beer manufacturer's license from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. That support also allows the microbrewery's owners to apply for city building and engineering permits.
The area is zoned as heavy commercial, but there are residences nearby. One resident, Dee Schaffer, wrote to the city to oppose the microbrewery. Schaffer, who lives across the alley, said she's concerned because there were problems with noise, crime, traffic and other nuisances when a punk rock bar called Club Minimal operated there in 1983 and 1984.
"I most adamantly protest this place going in," she wrote in an email included in a city staff report to the planning commission.
Three other residents, a neighborhood association and a business owner sent emails to the city in support of Track 7.
“This appears to be a good example of light industrial mixed use. It would appear to be
a potentially energizing community asset. Kindly accept this note as one of support," wrote Don Lockhart of the College Green Neighborhood Association
No supporters or opponents spoke at the Planning Commission's public hearing Thursday night, city planner Evan Compton said.
Planning Commissioner William Wong voted against granting the permits. Most of the commissioners' discussion involved the hours of operation.
There was a motion to limit the hours, but the commission granted the owners' request to be able to operate from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. They will initially be open Thursdays through Sundays, then expand to more weekdays once business builds, Graham said.
The commissioners also decided to allow live music and limited on-site parking requirement to two spaces. The tasting room is small. There are 18 parking spaces on the street in front, and about 15 other parking lot spaces belonging to the building's other tenants would likely be free in the evenings, Compton said.
"I don't really see that (parking is) going to be an issue," he said.
The microbrewery will be located near the future Curtis Park Village development. Brewery equipment is on site but hasn’t been installed. The brewery’s open layout will allow visitors to see the equipment, such as stainless steel tanks, platforms and a control panel.
Graham and Scott plan to serve nuts, chips or other snacks. They also hope to have a food truck serving gourmet fare in the future. But Track 7 won't have a restaurant, Scott said.
"We're just going to focus on beer, because that's what's important to us," he said. "The food is not really important at all."
Editorial Note: A correction has been made to this story after it was published. The incorrect information has been struck out and the correct information has been added.
Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt.