Things looked pretty grim for Idle Hands Craft Ales after the Wynn Everett Casino handed down a notice to vacate their facility on Charlton Street to make way for constructoin of the casino.
Idle Hands and about 20 other businesses in the industrial side of town were given the boot on June 30, and a the brewery’s death knell seemed imminent.
But there is plenty of brotherhood on tap in the craft beer brewing community. Their old neighbors, Nightshift Brewery, were not going to let their kegs kick for the last time.
“We’d always been helping each other out from running out of grain or [bottle] caps all the way up to when they were in a sticky situation,” Nightshift owner Rob Burns said.
“At first we thought the casino would be a good idea,” Chris Tkach of Idle Hands said. “It would clean up the location, which wasn’t going to happen any other way without someone with deep pockets. But as things progressed, we saw writing on the wall and my opinions on the casino flopped.”
Tkach said that once Wynn bought the land in February 2015, the conversation about leaving and preparing to change gears was not up for debate or discussion at all.
Nightshift stepped up to the plate as soon as they got wind of the mass exodus planned for Charlton Street.
“We told them, ‘We’re here for you, and we’re open to any ideas,’” Burns said.
Initially, it seemed like the Charlton Street area wouldn’t be part of the direct route to the proposed casino site. But when Boston’s Mayor Marty Walsh and Everett’s Mayor Carlo DeMaria squared off over land usage for the development, the battlefield included all of Tkach’s turf, both personally and professionally.
“I have a unique perspective live in Charlestown and am sort of getting screwed two-fold,” Tkach said. “Because of Boston trying to stop things, Wynn had to come up with new plans, in order to access the site. So the roadway is key. Trucks roll through Boston streets would get endless harassment from BPD. Those trucks would be weighed at every stop every time.”
The Belgian-style brewers brought their own equipment to the Nightshift facility located right across the street from the Teddy Peanut Butter factory.
“It’s always interesting. This is why we collaborate. There’s a million different ways to brew a beer and it’s been a great learning experience from small to large scale experiences. Cool opportunity for the customers too,” Burns said.
Tkach said that Nightshift has been nothing short of a godsend to the momentarily debilitated Idle Hands.
“The previous owner sold the property and served everyone in the property notice to vacate,” Tkach said. “Wynn, I think, were told that the land had already been vacated, and were left holding the bag with tenants who were pretty much all in dark.”
Both Idle Hands and Nightshift saw this as an unfortunate, yet manageable set of circumstances.
“When you’re in a position to help makes you feel like you’re a part of something bigger,” Burns said. “We have an opportunity to help because of our fans and we have this humbling opportunity to help out our friends. They’d do the same for us, no doubt. Helping a small biz through a rough patch is what makes it all worth it. Celebrate camaraderie of starting together. They’re all great and they shouldn’t fail because they got unlucky.”
Burns said that though he had mixed feelings about the casino, he saw opportunities in bringing new life into cities and towns that were otherwise in need of revitalizing TLC.
“When we first heard, we had mixed feelings I grew up outside of Philly with Atlantic City as a quick drive,” Burns said. “I saw the rise and fall of that don’t want that here at all. It’ll bring attention and improvements to roads and infrastructure and transportation have us excited. But we’re hesitant because we know that only so much space is available. It’s unfortunate but it’s also a positive that they have the chance to go somewhere better.”
Idle Hands has a court date in early August to finalize their tentative situation in moving out of their facilities. In the mean time, they are in search of a new home while.
“In about two weeks time, we’ll have a better sense of what’s going to happen next,” Tkach said. “But I think we’re headed towards greener pastures.”