Community History – Brew Works/Jillians

Brew Works/Jillian’s

Brew Works was a microbrewery owned by Ken Lewis. The facility was located in the old Bavarian Brewery Complex and was in operation from 1996-1998. Since the closing of Bavarian Brewery in 1966, the complex remained primarily vacant. In 1996, Ken Lewis purchased the property. Initially, he planned to demolish the buildings and construct a new Party Source Store on the site. Lewis, however, saw much potential in the old castle-like structure. Instead of destroying the building, the decision was made to restore them and to open a microbrewery named Brew Works.. The City of Covington fully endorsed the plan. The city aided the developer in acquiring a number of homes along Reidlin and 12th Streets. These buildings were demolished to make way for a new parking lot. The city also arranged for the construction of 169 additional parking spacing under nearby Interstate-75.

Throughout the year 1996, the old Bavarian Brewery was restored. The grand opening for Brew Works was held on November 1, 1996. Restoration work totaled $11 million. The complex included a microbrewery, gift shop, a 45,000 square foot Party Source Store, a private party room, a cigar lounge, several bars, a main dining room, and a coffeehouse. Over 1,500 brands of bottled beer were available on site. Brew Works also brewed 10 different beers on site under the guidance of Tim Rastetter, brewmaster.
On July 1, 1998, Brew Works was purchased by the Wynkoop Brewing Company of Denver, Colorado. At the time, Wynkoop was the largest brewpub company in the United States. The Brew Works concept, however, never proved successful. In 1998, Brew Works was sold to the Louisville based Jillian’s.

The new Jillian’s facility officially opened on December 13, 1998. The 75, 000 square foot facility included two restaurants (Sports Video Café and the Hibachi Grill), the High Life Lanes (14 high tech bowling lanes), a billiards lounge, and a 14,000 square foot gaming room and bar (with more than 200 electronic simulation games). Jillian’s spent $7 million to update and improve the complex.

On March 11, 1999, Jillian’s opened a five-story dance tower at the Bavarian complex. The Tower offered a variety of live and recorded music. The Tower was so popular, that as many as 6,000 patrons were attending each weekend. Parking soon became a problem. The management of Jullian’s provided a bus service that took patrons from back and forth between Jillian’s and the Covington City Garage on Seventh Street.

Today, Jillian’s continues to operate as a popular night spot in the Lewisburg neighborhood.

Kentucky Post, August 21, 1996, p. 2K, September 19, 1996, p. 9K, October 31, 1996, p. 3, November 19, 1998, p. 20,December 8, 1998, p. 6C, December 10, 1998, p. 16, March 11, 1999, p. 16 and March 17, 1999, p. 2K.

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