High Voltage Indoor Karting is ready to deliver a major jolt of entertainment in Medina.
The entrepreneurs behind the racetrack are transforming their building into a grown-up playground complete with not only electric go-karting but also duckpin bowling, billiards, bocce, pinball, pingpong, old school video games such as Donkey Kong and Pac-Man, a kitchen and full-service bar, and a craft brewery and tasting room.
The new 30,000-square-foot entertainment center, called Foundry Social, is expected to open in the fall.
Partners Gene Whaley, Greg Cordray, Steve Madden and Brian Fontanella want the complex — a former foundry that they purchased five years ago — to become an entertainment destination in Northeast Ohio. As part of that effort, they have teamed up with Franklin Brewing Co., which is relocating its three-barrel brewery from Elyria to the site.
"We are trying to make a difference for our guests and the community, too," Whaley said.
The Foundry Social concept was born out of the partners wanting to offer additional options that would allow people to hang out longer. The facility, located at 333 Foundry St., will feature private event space large enough to accommodate gatherings of up to 150 people, along with smaller rooms available for parties and events.
High Voltage and Franklin will occupy about 40 percent of the building, leaving room for additional attractions, the partners said. The building has 46-foot-high ceilings and girders. Part of the project involves installing a "rooftop solar array."
Whaley declined to state the cost of the renovation project. When opened, Foundry Social is expected to add about 25 jobs to the community.
The building has undergone so many renovations over the years that the partners are finding unusual features such as hardwood ceilings and different kinds and sizes of bricks. They've opted to leave those quirks in place.
"We’ve really preserved the cool structure of the foundry," Whaley said.
High Voltage hooked up with Franklin Brewing because of a relationship with one of the assistant brewers. Whaley said the partners enjoyed the Franklin beers and the brewery just happened to be looking to expand.
Franklin partner Howard Ross said the brewery, which opened six years ago in a garage on private property in Lorain County, plans to relocate its operation to Foundry Social and open a 1,500-square-foot tasting room. Because of its size and location, Franklin doesn't operate a taproom in Elyria but is open on Saturdays for growler and can sales.
"Since we started the company, this was the end goal," Ross said. "It was a business opportunity we had to take."
The brewery, named after founding father Benjamin Franklin, will benefit from having an established brand as it makes the move and opens a taproom, he said. Franklin offers three mainstay beers in Milk Street Stout, America's Gold Kolsch and Bifocal IPA, along with many seasonal brews.
Ross said the brewery will have to upgrade its equipment.
"We are coming into this knowing we are going to sell a lot of beer," he said. "We have a six-year history. It leads to a confident feeling."
Franklin is joining a growing Medina County craft beer scene. The county is home to five breweries: Lager Heads in Medina, Vine N Hop in Brunswick, Jilbert Winery in Valley City, Wrecking Crew in Medina and Wadsworth in Wadsworth. Meanwhile, Blue Heron is open in Montville Township but is still awaiting its state brewing permit, and Planted Flag is opening in Medina Township.
Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell is excited about the project.
“The city of Medina’s slogan is ‘Preserving the Past. Forging the Future,’ and the Foundry Social project is doing that — literally," he said in a prepared statement. "The Foundry dates back to 1850, and High Voltage Karting did a great job breathing new life into the building and preserving a piece of Medina history. Now with Foundry Social occupying the remaining space in the facility, they have truly preserved the past and brought it into the future. I can’t think of a better example of our town’s slogan.”
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his daily beer blog at www.ohio.com/lifestyle/beer. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.