Area leaders get preview of brewery: Box Office Brewery opens Oct. 20

The Box Office Brewery's open space includes a balcony area with additional seating. The building was home to the Strand Theater, which was built 100 years ago in Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Box Office Brewery isn’t open for business, but Wednesday night’s town-county  dinner was the first event for the highly anticipated attraction. Representatives from all over Shenandoah County came together in the renovated theater turned brewery to mingle, eat and see the makeover downtown Strasburg has enjoyed.

Town-county dinners bring area leaders together twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. Strasburg Mayor Rich Orndorff was slated to host last fall’s event but wanted to wait until Box Office Brewery was a viable venue.

Months of construction paid off as representatives poured in, admiring the high, decorative ceiling, polished floor and historic stage, which featured members of the Strasburg High School string quintet.

Town and county representatives enjoyed food and drink before Strasburg Town Manager Wyatt Pearson ran through the finer details of what made the evening possible.

In 2013, Strasburg applied for a Community Development Block Grant to spur economic development downtown. Pearson said his job has been tricky.

“From the time this project started, I’m the third town manager to be working on this project specifically,” he said. “So there’s a lot of influences on how we got to where we’re at today.”

Pearson joked with the crowd that his job often meant protecting them from themselves, referring to an early over-the-top mock design of a purple and white storefront, emblazoned with “GO RAMS” and a large ram’s head trophy over the entrance.

“It was funny at first,” he said. “Then we had a moment where we realized we can’t let anybody see this; they might actually ask us to build this.”

None of the downtown revitalization projects have been quite so bright, but the town has enjoyed more than one fresh coat of paint. Pearson showed before and after pictures of downtown businesses that underwent major facelifts thanks to the block grant. New paint, retractable awnings and brand new windows were some of the touches Pearson highlighted.

Besides business renewal, the town used some of the funds to build an event center downtown. The hope, Pearson said, is to have the center available almost year round.

Business owners are revitalizing downtown due to the block grant, but leaders like Orndorff are especially proud of Box Office Brewery. When Tom Price purchased the building, it was in disrepair. Months of toil and sweat, highlighted in a video Price showed on Wednesday night, depicted how far the space has come.

Pearson said Price applied for the matching grant and received the full $20,000 available for businesses.

The community block grant is sprucing up downtown and making private investment more viable, too, Pearson said. Another project in the works features a collaboration with the town’s grant money and Doug Boyd of Sunlight Properties working on establishing 18 apartment units and five new storefronts.

Box Office Brewery will open to the public on Oct. 20.