By Kathy Chouteau
On the sunny afternoon of Sat., June 22, Richmond’s newest bar—The Factory Bar—celebrated the kickoff of its building renovation with a groundbreaking ceremony that included Mayor Tom Butt, its owners, local businesspeople, neighbors and other community members. Approximately 40 people overall were in attendance and a jovial atmosphere prevailed.
The celebration was held at The Factory Bar’s site at 12517 San Pablo Ave. in Richmond, next door to the former Pup Hut. Attendees got a sneak peek at the early incarnation of the bar’s vision, which will include a retail site on one half of its building, the bar on the other half and an adjacent, sizeable outdoor space that will be transformed into a patio.
On the soon-to-be outdoor patio, bar owners Jason Beebout, Michelle Guest, Tom Lyons and Marcus Hibser, welcomed guests during a “meet & greet” sesh that featured a tented area with hospitality fare provided courtesy of Richmond businesses including food from Mississippi Catfish, beer from East Brother Beer, wine from Riggers Loft and cider from the Far West Cider Company.
Following the meet & greet, Hibser took to the microphone and addressed the crowd, saying that he’d like to “thank everyone who is here and who supported us” as well as “everyone who has encouraged us along the way,” with special props given to Mayor Butt. While offering gratitude for the on swell of support for their venture, Hibser joked that “even the teachers are excited for the bar.”
Hibser also shared that it had taken the group of friends/bar owners two years to get to the groundbreaking, with The Factory’s target date for opening being February 2020.
Following up Hibser’s remarks were some from fellow bar owner, Lyons, who explained that the group of friends thought up the idea for a Richmond bar with local memorabilia inside following a Rosie the Riveter Rally three years ago. “Someplace to come and hangout until the evening hours,” he said of their collective vision.
Later, Guest elaborated to this reporter that at that long-ago Rosie Rally, the friends joked about “a polka dot factory” that could create the iconic Rosie the Riveter bandanas, and the idea for The Factory Bar’s name was born.
During his remarks, Mayor Butt said that The Factory was “fulfilling such a desperate need. This is not just any business, this is the one we’ve been waiting for.”
“I wish you the best of luck and look forward to opening day,” he added.
On the heels of the mayor’s remarks, the bar’s business owners gathered together with him and local neighbor, Ellen Seskin, to take golden shovels and officially “break ground” into a pile of dirt on the bar’s someday-patio area.
Afterwards, attendees got to preview The Factory Bar’s retail space—impressively but temporarily decorated with Richmond and WWII-era memorabilia—and also the adjacent bar space, currently a rough construction site. At this time, no retail business has been signed as the bar’s neighbor.
Perhaps something Lyons said that afternoon sums up the community-leaning essence of the owner’s vision for The Factory Bar: “It belongs to us, but it belongs to you too.”