Defying the odds: Lizard Tail Brewing found opportunity to expand during pandemic

·2 min read

Sep. 24—The pandemic hit local businesses hard, with some even shutting permanently, but one local brewery used the time to reevaluate, get its bearings and expand.

Lizard Tail Brewing opened in 2014 inside a strip mall on Montgomery NE near Eubank. The location is cozy but doesn't leave a lot of room for brewing. Still, expansion continued to take a back burner, said minority owner and head brewer John Ruyak.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic happened and it led to circumstances that made expansion a realistic option. The owners of Cantero Brewing at 3351 Columbia NE, in the industrial area east of Interstate 25 between Candelaria and Comanche, decided to sell. Ruyak said they were involved in other ventures that took off during the pandemic and no longer had time to focus on their brewery.

"It gave us an opportunity to do things we had not been able to do," he said. "We decided to purchase the property."

They were able to use a Small Business Association loan offered to companies as part of the pandemic relief fund. Lizard Tail Industrial was born.

They didn't stop there.

They opened a third location last month in Nob Hill, 3417 Central NE, that formerly housed a Poki Poki. The brewery entrance is in the alley and cannot be seen from Central. This location has the latest hours and is open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.

"Both locations came to me," said founder and managing partner Dan Berry. "It was really fortuitous, and we are thrilled to have locations throughout the metro now."

In addition to adding more locations, the company is adding more space to its original location. Ruyak said the company is remodeling the Northeast Height Lizard Tail to add patio seating.

The next step, Ruyak said, is to distribute their beer to local restaurants and start packaging it.

Ruyak said he hopes the city's beer lovers give the expanded brewery a try.

"We strive to be family-friendly," Ruyak said. "We have a kids' menu, we welcome dogs, and we are a great place to hear good music."

For more information about hours and locations, visit lizardtailbrewing.com.