Historic District Commission approves Uncle Charlie’s Firehouse and Brew 

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It was nearly a decade ago when craft brew enthusiasts and father-daughter duo, Taryn and Charlie Grows, first envisioned opening their own brewery in the city of Folsom where the family has had roots since 1956. 

After years of what they like to call “brew diligence,” the father daughter duo’s dream is nearing reality as “Uncle Charlie’s Firehouse and Brew” had its request for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and design review by the City of Folsom Historic District Commission unanimously approved during its public meeting at City Hall Wednesday evening 

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Video provided by Folsom TV

“We are absolutely stoked and exhausted all at once,” said Taryn. “The emotional rollercoaster we have been on to make this dream come true, has been a long ride. To get a unanimous vote on something like this is not usual, which just shows how everyone is excited about the economic vitality this will bring to the community. To be at helm of it all is very exciting for us.”

Since that day 10 years ago when they decided it was time to take their love of craft beer to the next level, both Taryn and Charlie, have been planning and strategizing to make the family-owned brewery a reality.

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“It’s what we have called doing our brew diligence, said Taryn, referring the endless hours of studying and various road trips to breweries across the region that were all part of their education and research to support their venture. 

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“In any type of business, to do it right you need to do your homework to succeed. Even if it’s something you love, there’s so much to prepare for and we’ve been ready for this day to come.”

One of the many tasks in their journey for the Grows’ was finding an ideal location to become the home of their venture.  When the city announced it was taking bids of interest for a unique space in the Historic District last May, it was exactly what the duo envisioned. 

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Located at 905 Leidesdorff Street, the space is 3,322 square feet in size and attached to the public parking garage in the heart of the Historic Folsom Plaza. The space has been vacant for several years and was previously occupied by the Museum of Wonder and Delight.

Several business concepts were submitted to the city from the bid request and public input was put into the deciding factor as to what the best concept was to suite the location. In the end, Uncle Charlie’s Firehouse & Brew was the headliner. 

Uncle Charlie’s Firehouse and Brew will be a firefighter-fire responder themed establishment. Charlie, is a retired firefighter who began his career in Folsom in the late 60’s. 

Their forethought into the theme has been extensive and even includes the incorporation of a vintage fire engine that will be the focal point of the interior and house the plumbing and components for the taps to actually be attached to it.

“It’s actually an original Folsom fire truck that was in use when my Dad served on Folsom fire,” said Taryn. “It was later sold to Plymouth in Amador County before Charlie bought it after it was no longer in service. So, beer will be poured in Uncle Charlie’s Firehouse & Brew from an actual fire truck that he once rode tailboard on, it doesn’t get more original than that.”

Up until Wednesday night, the Grows have gone through the many steps with the city to be considered for the space. Taryn, previously worked for the Folsom Chamber of Commerce and with her experience in the city, she felt having a brewery occupy the space would be a way to retain tourists who could even use light rail from Downtown Sacramento to travel to Folsom.  The plan is to work with others to create a beer and light rail ale trail event, in which guests could visit multiple brewhouses along the rails from Sacramento to Folsom and back. 

“The light rail is an asset to this community and the Historic District, but it’s not necessarily used to its full potential,” said Charlie. “What a great way to put it to more use and promote tourism to the city and the whole corridor it travels. It can help everyone.”

The Grows didn’t pursue the space on their own desires and passion, however, they took the idea to the community. Taryn created an on online petition last year and asked the public to express their support of the idea, which they did. 

“I just wanted to get an idea if people really wanted a brewery out here?’” Taryn explained.  

When the Commission made its vote Wednesday night, City Hall erupted in cheers from the crowd of supporters that attended the hearing.  The decision was the one remaining hurdle the Grows were anxiously awaiting to clear. 

The vote came after some building and operating conditions were agreed upon, including hours of operation and the design of an adequate ventilation system to properly control exhaust and potential exterior odors during the brewing process.

Following the decision Wednesday, the Grows next step will be lease negotiations with the city. Thereafter the proposed lease terms will go before Folsom City Council for review in April. 

After council approval, the Grows can proceed with obtaining the necessary licensing with the Alcohol Beverage Control and start the process of obtaining building permits.  The Grows will be responsible for all needed improvements to the property. 

“We’ll have a lot of tenant improvements to do once we get to that point,” Taryn said. “It takes roughly eight months for our brew system to be built alone so we are looking to be open by early 2024.” 

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A dream that has spanned a decade is coming to reality for this Folsom daughter-father duo of Taryn and Charlie Grows as their local brewery to be, Charlie’s Firehouse and Brew, was approved by the City of Folsom Historic Commission Wednesday evening.
Photo: Bill Sullivan
Uncle Charlie’s Firehouse and Brew will fill a long vacant city owned space attached to the Historic Parking garage.
Part of the decor and and interior design of Uncle Charlie’s Firehouse and Brew will incorporate a 1952 Val Pelt Fire Engine that was once owned and used by the Folsom Fire Department when Charlie served on the local department. The Grows located the vintage engine in Amador County and purchased it for restoration and use in their venture. Photos: Taryn Grows

Bill Sullivan
Author: Bill Sullivan

Bill Sullivan has over 25 years of professional journalism and content creation experience in which he has earned 37 professional awards. He is the co-founder/publisher of Folsom Times an All Town Media LLC product.