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Bourbon Barrel Closes For Major Construction Phase

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Sonora, CA — Beginning today, patrons of downtown Sonora’s Bourbon Barrel will have to find another local haunt to frequent for awhile.

According to Trado LLC owner/developer Doug Kennedy, construction of the planned Green Dog Brewing Company complex that surrounds the tavern has reached the point where it needed to be shuttered so that contractors can finally get to making planned major infrastructural changes. These include integrating the operation into the overall mixed space that will house dining, a beer garden and retail store along with live performance areas.

Speaking with Clarke Broadcasting, Kennedy, who also shared updated conceptual images (viewable in the image box slideshow), explains that work on renovating and expanding upon the circa 1940s Sonora Armory building is not only moving forward at full steam, it was PG&E that triggered the sudden closing when officials indicated that a crew could move up plans projected for February or March to rip out the building’s old power grid and install a new and much bigger one.

“They called us last week and said that they were ahead of schedule and that our electricians were ahead of schedule,” Kennedy says,  grinning. “We have [the contractor] out there digging up the trenches.” Among the other work that will be done in the weeks ahead is an expansion of the existing Bourbon Barrel footprint that will relocate and increase the existing kitchen and restroom facilities elsewhere within the complex, creating room for a higher end dinner space as well as a small performing stage in the tavern, itself.

As to when the Bourbon Barrel will reopen, Kennedy says it will depend on when the complex is ready to open in its entirety, as the “new” Bourbon Barrel will actually open into the overall space. “We have not put a time stamp on when we are going to open, the reason being is that it is an old building — and we have uncovered a lot of things that we did not anticipate when we started the construction of the project,” he explains.

Working Past Construction Challenges, Other Issues

Expanding on that Kennedy shares that his company has been working closely with the City of Sonora  to work through some of the issues with underground sewage, electricity and other surprises that have come up through the process. “The hope is that we can open sometime late spring or early summer. But we are really at the mercy of how the building goes, how the power grid goes and all the stuff that we are implementing within the building to bring everything up to California State codes,” he emphasizes.

When asked how interactions with Sonora City Council are going these days, Kennedy states, “I feel we have a good relationship with the City Council now — and that they understand — and it appears to be full steam ahead from the contractors’ standpoint and from PG&E.” As to working with Stage 3 again, which, as reported here, has been another somewhat thorny issue, he maintains, “We still have open arms if they want to come back in and put plays on in the facility, when we ultimately open the doors.”

Riffing on the topic of performances and productions, Kennedy stresses, “I don’t want people to get the notion that we are just putting up a concert facility…we are absolutely looking to put in plays, comedies, musicals.” Describing his project as a community facility, albeit, for profit, he says plans include perhaps even renting portions for weddings and private events. “A facility downtown that may accommodate…even over 600 people should bring some more commerce down and offer more economic opportunities to downtown,” he remarks.

Noting that in cities elsewhere, particularly along the West Coast, beer and craft breweries have revitalized local commerce and jobs, Kennedy comments, “I don’t know if that is what is going to happen with the Green Dog Beer Company but we are sure going to give it a try — and I would love nothing more to to see two or three more companies follow suit and move into the downtown area.” While his new complex will not have its own brewing facility, he confides a couple of preliminary talks are in progress while his eyes continue to rove downtown real estate for another space close by.

In the meantime, Kennedy says he is grateful for the supportive Bourbon Barrel clientele, adding with a showman’s flair, “I want to send a message out to the patrons that I hope that they will be patient with us…and I know that what we are doing is…to give them something even more fun to look forward to.”