Dixie Beer to return to New Orleans, this time in the East
NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Gayle Benson says Dixie brewing will return to New Orleans, but this time, in the East.
After an 11-year hiatus, she's hoping that it will serve as a catalyst for change in the area near Almonaster Avenue.
In the old MacFrugal's warehouse built 30 years ago, a new dream is launched using an old brand.
"We believe the future of New Orleans East is bright, and we are confident our investment will be the first of many in this area," said owner Gayle Benson, who announced the fulfillment of a long-time dream of her late husband, Tom.
They'll use the old, massive site to brew a beer that was first brewed in New Orleans in 1907.
"To his last day, he asked me every day, 'Have we closed on the property in the East?' Mr. Benson I know you're watching, but we closed on the property to the East," said Saints-Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha.
Mrs. Benson plans to spend $30 million on a building that currently contains 200,000 square feet. It will be able to brew 60% more beer than the old Tulane Avenue location, and the project is being financed without government help.
The project will include a tower reminiscent of the Tulane Avenue brewery, now incorporated in the VA hospital. The new brewery will also feature a welcome center, a band stand and a brew pub.
The Bruno family will also retain part ownership.
"We're coming back, and we're better than ever....and I'm happy we're coming back to this area," said Kendra Bruno.
There are giant fermenters, each one capable of filling half and Olympic-sized pool. There are 36 of them, and clearly Dixie plans to brew a lot of beer.
"Whether you're in Seattle, New York City, people have a love of the beer...it brings back a visit to Bourbon Street or Mardi Gras or whatever," said Dixie Manager Mel Coleman.
While many hope the new brewery should help drive economic development in the East, from the interstate it is clear the area needs help.
"It was not pretty, we know that. The aspiration is, it gets pretty," said Lauscha.
"We work hard to improve issues in New Orleans East such as crime or trash, but the biggest thing is economic development," said State Sen. Wesley Bishop, D-New Orleans.
It's a development with plenty of room to grow in the future. If all goes well, the brewery could expand to a million square feet.
Dixie currently brews three types of beer, the original Dixie, Dixie Light and Blackened Voodoo.
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