New brewpub proposed at Wilton-Norwalk border

Wilton and Norwalk residents may soon be lugging a refillable growler on Danbury Road as a new brewpub has been proposed at a property sitting on the border of the suburban municipality and shoreline city.

The two-story building sitting at 4 Danbury Road, originally built in 1900, has been used primarily as a bank and most recently as a Wells Fargo branch. On June 28, a proposal by Dave Guda, owner of DWG Properties, LLC, along with architect Pierre-Christian Frye and attorney Liz Suchy was presented to the Wilton Planning and Zoning Commission for approval for the land use.

“Brewpubs are gaining popularity in Connecticut right now,” Suchy told the commission. “Right now, there are more than 90, but there are none in Wilton.”

Suchy noted there used to be “two or three” in Norwalk, and that Guda had, at one point, gained approval for a brewpub in Norwalk but due to “difficulties negotiating with the landlord, it never came to pass.”

Guda, a more than 30-year resident of neighboring New Canaan, said he is familiar with the area. The Fairfield County local, who plans to run the business with his wife Wendy and son Mike, also told the commission he plans to manage the different aspects of the brewpub as “two different enterprises.”

First, he explained the brewing process.

“It takes a lot of time, it takes a lot of space, but it doesn’t take a lot of people,” Guda said. “We would anticipate, initially, brewing only once or twice a week, which is about a six- to eight-hour endeavor to do a brewing session.”

He said on days he’s not brewing, staff would tend to the beer. This process would be to let the beer ferment and carbonate, so that it becomes consumable.

This process would take place during the early morning to early afternoon hours, “say 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., or 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” according to Guda. “We would not overlap our activities in the brewery with our peak hours in our brewery upstairs.”

Concurrently, the upstairs kitchen and dining room area would be prepping for an afternoon into night food service. Guda expects most of the peak restaurant hours would start in the mid-afternoon into the evening on Friday, and early afternoon into evening on the weekends.

For Frye, the architect pegged with renovating the exterior of the building, it’s about making a very stock-standard, 1980s-era corporate building look “fun.”

Initial plans include window replacements for a more “industrial” look; incorporating more visibility to the street by using glass to market the brewing equipment downstairs; and a small room upstairs, adjacent to the dining room area where microbatches can be brewed to show patrons how the process occurs.

For this project, there are 26 spots proposed for the existing lot, which adheres to the town’s parking regulations for restaurants. While all of the building falls within Wilton’s jurisdiction, roughly 20 of those parking spots fall onto the Norwalk side of the border.

Commissioners Eric Fanwick and Matthew Murphy both asked Guda if the small brewery would be selling wholesale to package stores, rather than just serving their products in-house.

Guda said most of the beer will be sold on the premises, and that package stores were not in the initial plans. But he added possibly selling beer to local restaurants as a “marketing tool” might be a more realistic option they would start with.

“Initially, we (would) do what most small breweries do, fill growlers,” Guda said.

Eventually, Guda said he would like to can some of the beers on the premises, to where he could sell four- and six-packs of the local beer from behind the bar to patrons on-site.