DENHAM SPRINGS - Considering how much concern the idea of a microbrewery caused on social media in the days leading up the meeting, there wasn't much fight Monday night at Planning and Zoning.
In fact, the reviews from crowd members on an establishment that would serve craft beer in downtown Denham Springs were all positive.
The board voted 5-0 to recommend a 'special use permit' for Le Chien, a proposed microbrewery that will be located at 101 Hummell Street, just south of the railroad tracks in Denham Springs. The permit would allow the establishment to operate at a food-to-alcohol ratio less than what the city considers adequate for restaurants, which is 60-40.
Instead, the microbrewery would be required to operate at 20-80, per state regulations.
Le Chien would serve their very own craft beer, which you 'wouldn't find in stores' according to owner Ron Dunham. The food served would be acquired at a window type setting - and they would offer lunch - but there would be no formal wait staff.
But the microbrewery would go beyond just a place to drink beer and eat some food. The Dunham's will purchase the entire lot that stretches from Hummell to Range for both parking and space to have areas for dogs, a patio for outdoor games, and an area for small bands to play.
"A bar is where people go to have some drinks and meet people," Ron Dunham said, "our microbrewery is a destination."
Dunham and his son, Brett, discussed the economic impact of microbreweries on local economies, as well. According to the Louisiana Craft Brewers Guild, Louisiana microbreweries have provided $740 million to local markets, an impact of almost $222 million per establishment in Louisiana.
How? They become that destination.
"You see a lot of these microbreweries open up," explained Ron Dunham, "and then a restaurant opens next door.
"Or, if there already is one," he said, pointing to Amber Dugas, owner of TOLA Cafe in downtown Denham, "they see a boost in sales. Then, a shirt shop, and from there the market grows."
Dunham says that case studies of Hammond and Covington microbreweries show increased travel on the weekend, as well, which brings in foreign dollars to boost tax revenues - especially for gas.
Next, the full city council will hear the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning commission and decide whether or not to schedule their public hearing.
The council's public hearing would be held Tuesday, June 11th if approved.