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What do you get when a family by the name of Wlodarczyk includes an uncle who’s made award-winning beer for three decades, a father who’s spent his career as a beverage distributor, an entrepreneur son, generations’ worth of Polish family recipes and a surname name that few people can pronounce?
You get Woody’s Brewing Company, Redding’s only brewpub.
You also get a logical but memorable brewpub name. Because Wlodarczyk is pronounced wood-ar-sik, many of the Wlodarczyk friends long ago shortened Wlodarczyk to the nickname “Woody”.
Behold, Woody’s Brewing Company was born.
It’s set to open at 1257 Oregon Street on Jan. 1 – knock on Woody’s – assuming all the planets line up properly with licensing and certifications by then.
“It’s a a friends and family thing,” explained 29-year-old Andrew Wlodarczyk, who co-owns Woody’s Brewing Company with his father Scott Wlodarczyk, and uncle Pat Wlodarczyk, along with a silent investor.
Wlodarczyk took a break recently from working on Woody’s to show off the brewery and restaurant space that once housed Tapas restaurant next door to the Oregon Street Antique Mall. He also talked about the Woody’s venture that’s part leap of faith, part belief in their product and perfect timing.
“We’re a start-up, and the budget is tight, so family and friends have helped with everything from paint to decor,” Wlodarczyk said.
Case in point is the “pallet wall” constructed from pallets donated by friends who own Moore’s Flour Mill, scarcely a kitty-corner block away. While Wlodarczyk spoke, his mother Melinda Wlodarczyk worked on sewing burlap curtains for Woody’s windows.
Goodbye Tapas’ Mediterranean atmosphere, hello Woody’s urbanesque look that includes the liberal use of metal and wood. Everything is an inside job.
“We’re definitely a do-it-ourselves venture,” Wlodarczyk said as he pointed out that nearly every single part of Woody’s has been constructed, designed or created by friends and/or family.
“Maybe it’s more stressful this way, but it’s also more rewarding.”
Just as rewarding for Wlodarczyk and his team is the fact that Woody’s will serve ales, lagers and stouts on tap from recipes that have been perfected by uncle Pat Wlodarczyk for more than 30 years. Though initially Woody’s beers will be brewed at another location and brought to the brewpub, eventually the empty warehouse at back of the old building will be transformed to Woody’s on-site brewery.
In the brewpub tradition, Woody’s will serve food; but not just any food.
Although Wlodarczyk was not yet at liberty to share Woody’s entire menu, he did disclose that it will consist of a rotation of about 15 to 20 finger-food items, all made from scratch. The foods will represent a variety of ethnic cuisines, such as found in the Thai pork sliders, but some family dishes will also be featured, like his Polish grandmother’s pieroges, and Woody’s own “Polish nachos” with such typically un-nacho-ish ingredients as potatoes and sauerkraut. Beer, of course, will star as an ingredient in foods like fish and chips, cheese straws and onion rings, and perhaps even desserts.
Yes, the Wlodarczyks were aware that it would be much easier and far less expensive to serve and sell only beer. But they wanted to take Woody’s to the next level.
“We thought that a lot of excitement would come if we served food to compliment our beer,” Wlodarczyk said. “We really hope to nail it with the food.”
This requires a full kitchen crew, which rounds out the number of total employees at Woody’s to about 20.
True, the Wlodarczyks chose to open their brewpub at a time when some people might suggest that this economy might not be the best in which to open a business – especially restaurant-related. Wlodarczyk isn’t worried, because there’s Woody’s beer, and for that, he believes there’s never a bad time, especially as Woody’s rides the wave of public interest in craft beers.
“My father says that people drink beer when they’re down and depressed, and they drink beer when they’re happy,” Wlodarczyk said. “We’re counting on that.”
In fact, the Woody’s team is so confident of their success that they have only one concern.
“We know we can get people in here,” Wlodarczyk said. “Keeping up with demand will be our greatest challenge, but I think we’re up for it.”
Woody’s Brewing Company opens Jan. 1 at 1257 Oregon St., Redding, Calif., 96001. Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. until 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. until 9 p.m.
Photos by Rob Simpson.
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.