Nearly a decade after setting down roots in East York, Muddy York Brewing Co. is moving north.
With an expansion that unexpectedly became a relocation plan, the team is making the most of a challenging situation, and bidding farewell to its beloved first home.
Opened in 2016 at 22 Cranfield Road, Muddy York Brewing Co. has since been a mainstay of the community, bringing people together in its taproom and beer garden for birthdays, trivia nights, weddings, and more.
“This was their neighbourhood place,” says Susan Michalek, co-owner, with partner and head brewer Jeff Manol, of Muddy York. She describes a community that has embraced the business since day one.
“We’ve worked a lot to make that place what it is,” adds Michalek. “We’re operating a successful business. It’s not like we failed. We didn’t. It’s a profitable, successful business for us.”
So successful, in fact, that a couple of years ago, Michalek and Manol decided the time had come to open a second location.
“We moved out of the city during COVID,” explains Michalek. “We moved to rural Pickering, and just exploring neighbourhoods up here we realized that Stouffville didn’t have a brewery to call their own.”
“Moving up here opened our eyes to different neighbourhoods and different regions and what the possibilities could be,” she adds.
Sensing a great opportunity for expansion beyond what Michalek calls Toronto’s “very saturated” market, the duo set sights on an old post-office building at 6297 Main Street, Stouffville.
This past August, an Instagram post officially announced the business’ second brewery location.
Then, says Michalek, the plans took an unexpected turn. “We were running things as normal,” she explains, when the building’s landlord informed the pair that he had plans to sell the building and that their lease couldn’t be renewed.
“That was very disappointing. We were ready to just operate in that space for as long as we could,” says Michalek, adding that the duo wasn’t able to purchase the building themselves.
Echoing others’ sentiments about Toronto’s volatile real estate market, Michalek adds, “we’re victims of this crazy financial economic situation right now where even for a successful business like ours, certain things are just not within grasp, especially in Toronto. It’s hard.”
She adds, “businesses are being priced out everywhere in the city. Gentrification is a really big issue. How do we keep the fabric of the city alive when things are out of reach for most?”
Faced with the abrupt change of plans, the duo has mixed feelings — they’re mourning the end of an era even as they look with optimism to the future.
The Cranfield site, “was our baby, so we’re pretty sad about it, pretty broken up about it,” says Michalek. “We’ve made so many friends and so many connections there. We saw people’s kids grow. We’ve been at people’s life events. It’s really too bad.”
The good news? “We’re still going to brew beer. We’re still very excited about our brand and the possibilities in Stouffville,” she adds. “We’re still looking forward to bringing beer to the people of Toronto, and Ontario and beyond.”
Muddy York Brewing Co. will be operating “in some capacity,” until early next year, says Michalek. No date has been announced for the opening of Muddy York Brewing Co. in Stouffville.