LAFAYETTE – “At some point you start to wonder if maybe this isn’t the best spot,” says John Paul, the owner and head brewer for Sawbriar Brewery.
After a failed Kickstarter campaign to build a brand new microbrewery in Downtown Lafayette, this after securing a lease through the Lafayette Public Trust Financing Authority, John and his wife Jessica turned to Plan B: Downsizing and using the existing Esprit de Cure event center for their brew pub.
Says the hopeful brew-master, “We wanted to make a fresh beer product using local ingredients, really good hand crafted quality, and let people hang out and enjoy that.”
But that didn’t happen either, failing to receive a conditional-use permit from the city.
First, the Lafayette Zoning Commission voted to deny the permit, despite the fact that the board found Sawbriar to be in compliance with their terms of the permit.
Then came an appeal to the city parish council, who was asked by John Paul to defer the ordinance to a date where more people could attend the meeting in support.
Paul claims that he received word from Councilman Pat Lewis via Lafayette Economic Development Authority, whom he asked to help push for the deferral, that the ordinance would be deffered. But at the last minute, that apparently changed.
John and Jessica Paul ended up being the only voices in support of the ordinance at the meeting, despite having a petition signed by nearly 300 people in support of Sawbriar.
The council denied the introductory ordinance unanimously.
“That neat, clean process of approval needs to exist and it needs to be a fair one, not subject to favoritism, which was one of the concerns for lifting the moratorium was, in the first place,” says John Paul.
The opposition was led by attorney Barry Salinger, who owns an historic home catty-corner to the Esprit de Coure event center.
Now the Pauls are stuck looking for yet another spot to build their brewery.
“I mean this is the greatest city in the world,” adds Paul, “It’s got the greatest people. We just wanted to be a part of that and show people how awesome it can be.”
News15 reached out to Councilman Lewis for comment on the opposition of Sawbriar by the city, but never received a reply.
John Paul also says that he fully plans to find a place to build their brewery. Whether it will be in Lafayette remains to be seen.