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The Sotherden's Part IV

REMEMBERING CLAY

The Sotherdens Part IV

 

In early 2013, I was contacted by Bryan Sotherden, the grandson of Donald and Lucile Sotherden, and his wife Lou with an idea.  I had met them at Lucile’s Memorial Service at Immanuel Lutheran Church and burial in Pine Plain Cemetery in 2011.  Their idea was to start a craft brewery in the old Sotherden Mill building on the property on Route 31 across the tracks from the church.  The building needed much refurbishing, repairs and TLC.  They wanted to keep the theme of a historical Tap Room using as much of the original building and furnish it with authentic décor.  While I waited for the legal procedures to give them ownership, I did some research on how the residents of Clay felt about the idea.  Nearly all feedback was positive.

 

In 2014, they began.  They started cleaning up the outside and cleaning out the inside.  By 2015, they were ready to have their first Side Track Farmers Market of local farming products to introduce themselves to the neighbors.  In 2016, they held a second Farmers Market with additional products including samples of craft beers.  The farmers who participated are still friends and suppliers for the Market sales room, including maple syrup and honey.  The last three years have been spent adhering to all the legal requirements, remodeling and furnishing the inside and landscaping and improving the outside of the property.  The first opening to the public was on August 31 to celebrate my birthday.  Once the “Open” sign was out, people crowded in.  But, let’s see all the preparations made before that day.

 

The first step for the Sotherdens was a public meeting with the Clay Town Board to apply for a zone change from Industrial to Neighborhood Commercial so that they could have retail space to sell.  That meant going to the Zoning Board of Appeals.  They also had to get a variance because the building was too close to the present road.  At the Planning Board Meeting they were required to have an application for their purpose and a full Site Plan with all changes and improvements they planned.  The County Planning Board was concerned about water and ceptic infrastructure.  No brewery was allowed at this time.  The State DOT’s concerns were about right of way so a 250 foot sidewalk had to be installed.  They needed a license from the State Liquor Authority so taxes could be collected.  Their trade mark had to be approved by the U. S. Patent office, a costly item.  The County Department of Health would not allow them to prepare food on the premises.  Of course, they had to have insurance for their employees.  The only agency who didn’t demand anything from the Sotherdens was the State DEC who said: “no approval needed!”

 

On the outside, the first project was a large parking lot where there once was a field of weeds and junk people would drop off.  The local Wilcox Company paved it.  It is all striped for parking spots and fenced with cascade hops climbing up the fence.  The new entrance is very inviting.  There is a walkway around the building.  The new paint job on the building, cleaning of front bricks and new loading dock were done by Homestead Renovation.

 

Inside, while tearing out and replacing the walls, the old grain weighing scale was found; partly inside a wall and partly under the floor.  It is near the receiving dock.  There are two brand new unisex bathrooms.  The ceiling is original with Carnegie beams.  Lou has an office behind the bar with a Market room next door.  The original windows are still intact and even some of the old venetian blinds.  New paneling on some of the walls was made from the wood pallets which are manufactured behind the Tap Room building.  The bar was made with reused supplies, mainly, pallets, by Steve, Bryan’s father.  Bar stools are large railroad springs with upholstered seats.  Round bar tables are made from large brewery barrels and the tops made by Retro Joe.  Steve also created four LED lighted mirrors emitting a change of colors, two small tables for two and more.  Much was purchased on ebay, at estate sales, Craig’s List and flea markets.  Two railroad luggage wagons, two railroad benches and a conference table were refinished.  The black and white old photos came from calendars created by the Clay Historical Association many years ago.  Almost all furnishings were bought locally and at least in New York State.  There is much more to see.

 

The present plan is to be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday through September.  Look for the “open” sign out front.  For information, contact Lou at {drink@freightyardbrewing.com}

 

Dorothy Heller, Historian

 

Photo of Lou and Bryan Sotherden by “J villegas Photography”