Amid tough times for small businesses on the Iron Range, one entrepreneurial couple bucks the trend. Eric and Jessica Lietz, owners of the iconic Whistling Bird Jamaican restaurant in Gilbert and Boomtown in Eveleth, will now open a brewery in Hibbing.
The Boomtown Brewery will be located at the former Zimmy’s Bar and Restaurant in the refurbished old trolley car depot on Howard Street. Zimmy’s, a popular destination for Bob Dylan fans in his hometown of Hibbing, closed in 2014. Rumors that Boomtown would expand there persisted over the last year. Those rumors were confirmed after the Lietzes received a $100,000 loan from the Hibbing Economic Development Authority this week.
Kelly Grinsteinner of the Hibbing Daily Tribune shared this description of the Boomtown plans in a story today:
The Boomtown Brewery will serve American cuisines with a twist, much like the Boomtown restaurant in Eveleth does now, said Jessica. Tap beers will be brewed inhouse here, and served in both locations.
“The brewery will be displayed on the former pool deck and darts area for guests to see the brewing process,” she said. “It’s nice because the basement is right below it for plumbing accessibility. This will be the feature wall, and will it be exposed so everyone will be able to see what’s going on.” …
The aim is to open the Hibbing location in the late summer or early fall. … The Lietzs anticipate a minimum of 45 employees for the Hibbing location.
The restaurant atmosphere will be warm, yet modern. Mining culture will be incorporated into the restaurant through art and a Howard Street mural will be added. Raised booth seating in the bar area and liquor bottle lighting will also be used to create a concept like that of Boomtown in Eveleth.
Two new brew pubs are in the works in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, some 35 miles to the southwest. The city of Duluth has enough brew pubs to feed and intoxicate a Roman legion. I’m sorry, a plaid Roman legion with cool beards.
It’s a popular trend, and one that seems tied to a younger customer base. That’s good news as the Iron Range region seeks to attract and retain younger workers, while also drawing new investment and innovative ideas.