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Downtown turnaround?

Downtown turnaround?

Local guitarist Neil Buettner plays before a packed Dustbowl Brewing Company Tap Room, as guests celebrate the brewpub's birthday.


POSTED August 7, 2012 10:28 p.m.

Downtown Turlock’s recovery wasn’t heralded by the long-awaited tinkling of wedding bells in a bridal shopping district.

Instead, the resurgence may have come with the clinking of pint glasses, filled with locally-brewed beer.

In the one year since the Dust Bowl Brewing Company’s Tap Room opened, Aug. 1, 2011, downtown Turlock has seen vacancies fall, foot-traffic increase, and – for the first time since the start of the recession – appears in the midst of a turnaround, according to Turlock Downtown Property Owner Association Director Dana McGarry.

“It’s been a great year,” said Dust Bowl Brewing Company founder/owner Brett Tate. “We have literally been going non-stop since day one here at the Tap Room as well as over at the brewery.”

The Tap Room has been packed to the gills nearly every night, locals and visitors alike fighting for the chance to taste the 35 beers presented by award-winning Dust Bowl Brewmaster Don Oliver. The Tap Room has sold more than 1,200 barrels of beer, 4,500 take-home 64 oz. growlers of beer, and over 1,500 shirts and hats.

The demand for Dust Bowl beer, driven by the Tap Room’s success, has led the brewery to hit its brewing capacity. The company is now looking for a larger space in Turlock to increase brewing operations, with beer shipping across the Central Valley.

“Local support has been amazing and it is much appreciated,” Oliver said.

That local support has translated into downtown foot traffic. Add in the foot traffic from other notable downtown businesses which opened in the past year – businesses such as Mexican restaurant La Mo, hookah lounge Xhale, antique and thrift store Treasure Hunters – and a palpable buzz has come to downtown Turlock.

“Between La Mo and Dust Bowl, downtown has become the place to be,” McGarry said.

Some businesses have reinvented themselves to great success, like Two Guys on Broadway’s new Red Brick Café, a bar and nightclub of sorts. And others are moving in, from tattoo parlors to professional services firms.

“What’s exciting for us about that is it looks as though we’re beginning to see a turnaround, both in our vacancy rate and in our ownerships,” McGarry said. “We’re feeling really positive about the economics of downtown.”

According to McGarry, downtown Turlock has only about 10 first-floor vacancies, though some are larger spaces.

And many downtown buildings have recently changed hands, with local investors purchasing the structures from absentee, out-of-town owners. Those local owners are more personally invested, McGarry said, and have been working to improve dated buildings and to create a more lively, fun, and exciting downtown.

“What that says to me is our community truly loves our downtown,” McGarry said.

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