A Jamaica Plain chef and his business partner hope to open a family-centered microbrewery in the Westinghouse Plaza complex this June.
Luis Espinoza told the Hyde Park Neighborhood Association last night that he and Craig Panzer hope to begin work soon converting the complex's former powerhouse into a home for their Roundhead Brewing.
Espinoza said he's been home brewing beer for about ten years now; he launched Roundhead Brewing in 2017. Panzer, who worked for four years as a marketing and operations manager at Jamaica Plain's City Feed and Supply, left his job as senior manager of marketing and communications at Interise downtown this month to work on Roundhead fulltime. Espinoza said the two met at their kids' soccer games in JP.
Espinoza said that while beer is obviously an adult beverage, they want to make Roundhouse a place where people can bring their families. They'll have soft drinks for the kids and hope to attract food trucks to serve patrons with an appetite for more than just beer. "We're not only brewing beer but we bring community together," he said.
One resident questioned placing a brewery in a complex that also houses the Academy of the Pacific Rim charter school; wouldn't a brewery just naturally attract all those kids? Espinoza said he doubted that, in part because the powerhouse is at the opposite end of the large complex from the school.
The historic complex originally began as the new home of B.F. Sturtevant Co., which made fans, air conditioning systems and related products - including a large industrial cooling system installed at the Walter Baker chocolate factory in Dorchester Lower Mills.
According to a history of the company, Benjamin Franklin Sturtevant, who arrived in Boston from his family's farm in Maine with just 20 cents in his pocket, did not set out to become the nation's fan king; instead he had an idea for a shoe-pegging machine, which would automate the process of connecting shoe soles to the upper part of the shoes.
Crushed by a larger competitor with a similar patent, he instead opened a small factory on Sudbury Street, where City Hall is today, to create the pegs then used to connect the two main shoe parts. But workers complained about all the dust the machine created, so he set to figuring out a way to keep the workers dustfree - by building what became the country's first pressure blower. The rest, as they say, is history.
In 1901, with his son-in-law, Eugene Foss in charge, the company moved to what is now Westinghouse Plaza in Readville - named for the company that bought B.F. Sturtevant in 1945.