Five years ago, when Zeroday Brewing Co. opened its Midtown brewery and tasting room, the owners placed a framed picture behind the bar.
It’s an old, black-and-white photo of Fink Brewing Co., located for many years at Forster and James streets in Harrisburg.
Well, sometimes, beer history works in very mysterious ways.
Soon, Zeroday itself will be brewing beer nearly on the exact site where, for decades, Henry Fink and his sons produced more than 20,000 barrels a year, before Prohibition knocked the stuffing out of their business.
In early summer, the Harrisburg-based brewer will open the Zeroday Taproom on the 900-block of N. 3rd Street, across a narrow alley from the old Fink brewery, which, in the height of alcohol ironies, is now the site of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.
Why the new space? According to co-owner Theo Armstrong, the craft brewing industry has changed a lot in recent years. Today, customers don’t just want better, more flavorful and local beer. They want it all: great beer, great food and a great place for a party.
That’s what Armstrong intends to offer as Zeroday opens its full-service brewery/eatery near the state Capitol complex.
“The newer craft breweries are opening as full-service restaurants,” he said. “Now that the industry is more advanced, that’s what people are embracing.”
Armstrong said that he’s seen this trend develop ever since he opened Zeroday’s existing tasting room on Reily Street in back of Midtown Cinema.
At first, Zeroday offered only bar snacks such as big pretzels and meat-and-cheese plates. Pizza came next, and, now, you can get a sandwich and soup there.
However, those were incremental steps that didn’t go far enough, he said. People increasingly wanted a full menu to accompany his award-winning craft beer.
Therefore, he and his business partners were open to new options when they learned that WCI Partners was looking for an anchor retail tenant for an apartment building they purchased last year.
Negotiations ensued and, recently, Zeroday’s owners—Armstrong, John Tierney and Matt Tunnell—signed a lease for the currently gutted, 5,000-square-foot, first-floor retail space at 925 N. 3rd St.
The location will give Zeroday more than twice the customer space, with room for a full-sized kitchen, a larger bar, tables, three fireplaces, comfortable seating areas, a cold storage room and a three-barrel pilot system for small-batch brews. The site offers two other key amenities—a separate room that can be closed off for private parties and a courtyard for sitting outside when the weather’s warm.
And expect the food to be good, too. Zeroday is partnering with downtown neighbor Cork & Fork to bring a Mexican and tapas-inspired menu to 3rd Street.
“We want to be a meeting place for the community,” Armstrong said. “We want to be Midtown’s living room.”
Zeroday will retain its space in back of Midtown Cinema, dedicating the entire 3,000 square feet to beer production. According to Armstrong, the company will need it.
Yes, Zeroday expects to sell a lot more suds at its new, full-service restaurant, but the company also plans to expand retail operations, complete with a new canning line. In addition, the owners have designs to open two other locations.
First off, Midtown Cinema, as part of its major renovation, is converting its front lounge area into a Zeroday Outpost with a 10-seat bar and additional tables. Therefore, the company will retain a central Midtown location for folks who consider the current, Reily Street brewery to be their neighborhood bar, as well as allow movie patrons to stroll into the theater with a pint.
And Armstrong has something special for you suburbanites, too.
Zeroday is partnering on a restaurant concept with the owners of the former ShakeDown BBQ. It will open in 2021 in Susquehanna Union Green, a mixed-used town center development under construction at Linglestown Road and Progress Avenue in Susquehanna Township, Armstrong said.
Nonetheless, Zeroday’s heart will always be in Midtown Harrisburg. That’s where they got their start and where, soon, they will have three locations: the Zeroday Taproom on 3rd Street, the Zeroday Outpost at Midtown Cinema and the Zeroday Outpost in the Broad Street Market.
“I’m confident that the 3rd Street launch will help us be a better part of the community,” Armstrong said. “Speaking as a business owner, we want everyone to be welcome.”
For more information about Zeroday Brewing Co., visit their website.
Disclosure: Alex Hartzler, a principal with WCI Partners, is co-publisher of TheBurg.