The place was packed Saturday morning when two new businesses were officially recognized at the Davenport Freight House in downtown Davenport.
It was a ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Front Street Brewery and Fresh Deli by Nostalgia Farms. But the atmosphere told a greater story of the latest improvement to the vibrant downtown venue.
Combined with the Freight House Farmers Market taking place there as well, the area was hopping with vendors, customers, kids, a few dogs and a band playing before and after the ceremony.
Last fall, the Davenport Levee Improvement Commission approved leases for the deli and the craft brewery in the riverfront building.
The city has struggled to find and keep businesses in the Freight House, at the intersection of Ripley Street and West River Drive. The levee commission decided to use a “food hub” model that involves the farmers market and having businesses that sell or serve locally grown and made products.
Front Street will be brewing and bottling at the Freight House as well as operating a tap room, while the Front Street restaurant will continue at its current location to the east at 208 East River Drive.
Ed Kraklio of Nostalgia Farms said he and business partner Joe Dennis opened the deli in February and business has been “amazing — increasing every week.”
His concept is providing healthy, affordable food to people while also providing more jobs to those who need the work. And the majority of products used, from bread and produce to some of the condiments, are locally made.
Steve Zuidema, Front Street co-owner and brewer, said he has operated the brewery and restaurant a few blocks away for 20 years but ran out of brewing capacity in the East River Drive building. Production at the Freight House involves eight tanks that are three times larger than the tanks at the restaurant.
He said all the brewing operations will be at the new site, which is expected to open in about 10 days, he said.
“This gives me more volume. We can make enough to satisfy what we need,” Zuidema said. “The idea behind this brewery is to have more production and have people be able to see it. This is a visual, a wide-open work space.”
He said the city “wanted to get some lights down here,” meaning new businesses in the city-owned building, and he wanted and needed a new location for the brewery. “It worked out as a good marriage,” he said. “We needed them and they needed us.”