DECATUR, Ala. - As the River City grows and makes strives to bring in more young professionals, a new industry is eyeing a Decatur location.
Cross-Eyed Owl Brewing, or XEO for short, is securing a lease for a large two-story building at the intersection of Moulton Street and First Avenue.
"We're right in the center of downtown," said XEO owner Henry Atwood. "We're on the border of the arts and entertainment district. We can see the Princess Theater from the front door."
The city planning commission already approved rezoning for the location, and the city council is expected to follow suit in November.
"We think its a great time for someone to get their feet wet in our community," said city development director Wally Terry.
"We've got about 4,500 square feet on the first floor that we're going to turn into brewery space," explained Atwood.
His plans include a beer garden outside, and big glass windows along the storefront through which passers-by can see the beer being made.
The Athens resident has been home brewing for six years and has wanted to open his own brewery, and began looking for a location.
"We didn't want to be the 12th brewery in Madison County," he explained. "There's a lot of benefit of being the first one in an area."
He envisions not only making good beer, but partnering with local restaurants to sell Decatur's only locally-made beer. He wants to be a force in educating people in enjoying responsibly, and actively participating in community festivals and events.
"It'll bring more foot traffic downtown to support the restaurants that are here," said Terry, referring to short walking commute from the planned location and the hub of restaurants downtown.
Atwood explains that a personal journey acted as a catalyst to making the physical brewery a reality.
"I was diagnosed with colon cancer early last year," he said. "And when I was sitting there having my first chemo treatment I realized, 'You know what? I want to do something for me.'"
Now, with renovations and licensing on their way, he hopes to have Cross-Eyed Owl Brewery Co. make its debut in the summer of 2017.