Boulevard Brewing Co. is opening a new visitor center with a beer hall, tasting room, food, retail space and more at the end of June

Boulevard Brewing Co. is planning to give beer drinkers a new brewery experience by the end of June. That’s when Kansas City’s biggest beer producer will open a new visitor center — with a beer hall (offering the brewery’s beer and a limited food menu), an expanded tasting room and retail shop — at 2534 Madison.  

Boulevard purchased the neighboring four-story building last February. The plan is for the first floor of the building to feature the expanded retail shop and tasting room as well as exhibits about the history of beer and Boulevard. The 10,000 square foot second floor will be home to Boulevard’s beer hall in which customers can order Boulevard’s beer and food from a limited menu.

“This has been something that has been on our wish list for a long time,” Jeff Krum, Boulevard’s vice president of corporate affairs, tells The Pitch. “It’s been some years now that we’ve not been able to accommodate the demand [for brewery tours], particularly on the weekends and in the summer. When you’re in the consumer products business and you can’t accommodate your customers who want to come an experience your brewery, it’s not a particularly good feeling.”

Brewery tours led to logjams in the existing tasting room at 2501 Southwest Boulevard. People waiting for the tours to begin — or sticking around after a tour — led to overflow crowds.

“We found that many people, after they had their samples, wanted to stay and have another beer or a bite to eat, but we had no way to accommodate those people,” Krum says.

The new visitor center will solve those issues and allow Boulevard to double the number of tours at peak times (Saturdays and summertime). The new tasting room will have room for about 100 people. The beer hall will feature room for more than 300 people. Krum says to expect plenty of seating and a second-story deck on the front of the building with a view of downtown. The menu will likely feature a still-to-be-determined “signature item” as well as a meat-and-cheese platter and bar snacks, Krum says.

Krum stresses that the beer hall won’t be a restaurant or a bar. There won’t be a full menu or table service or even a single TV.

“The idea is to keep the beer front and center,” Krum says.

Helix Architecture + Design is charged with designing the space, which was built in 1929 for Skelly Oil Co., which occupied the space through the 1970s, Krum says. Various other entities called the space home until DST Systems took over in 1995. Boulevard purchased the building last February and began converting it “back to the original masonry finishes” from the 1920s that give it an “industrial feel.”

Krum says the fourth floor will be converted into offices for the brewery while the third floor is still a question mark.

“We’ll hold it in our back pocket and let it tell us what it should be,” he says.

Meanwhile, the existing gift shop will revert to a production space, while “our hope is to maintain the existing tasting room,” Krum says.

“It’s certainly important part of the brewery and its history,” he says.

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