By Dave Schwab
Kensington Brewery, chosen to take over the Kensington Video site after an exhaustive search, will replace the mom-and-pop video store located at 4067 Adams Ave. sometime this summer after a remodel.
Owned and operated by the Hanford family since 1984, Kensington Video closed in March 2015, only to reopen 10 months later in a downscaled space with a new business model. The Hanfords, who own the building, closed for a second and final time in April.
Guy Hanford said selecting an appropriate replacement for their old-school video rental/sales shop was “truly one of the hardest decisions” he and sister Pam Cisneros ever had to make.
“We had many interested parties from nail salons, tattoo parlors, barber shops, realty offices, exercise rooms, hookah lounges, thrift stores, bookstores and a cigar store to insurance companies,” Hanford said. “The two finalists were a Bookbar and the Kensington Brewery. Both parties had awesome business plans and were locally owned.”
Hanford disclosed they finally went with the beermaker “because of their already established presence as a brewery in Mission Gorge. We also were incredibly impressed with their overall business plan, attachment to the community, desire to contribute back to the community, and reach out for business in a way that is becoming the new survival plan of the future for businesses to meet the needs of changing demographics.”
It’s now the mission of Kensington Brewing Company co-owner Zack Knipe and his business partners to convert the former video store space into a tasting room. A Kensington resident, Knipe is excited about the prospect of opening a new outlet for his self-made business in his own neighborhood.
“I started out brewing beer in my garage about 12 years ago after my wife bought me a home-brewing kit for Valentine’s Day,” Knipe said, quipping, “She got me that — and has been kicking herself ever since.”
The hobbyist-turned-brewmaster noted that he and others have successfully operated Kensington Brewing Company, located at 5839 Mission Gorge Road in Grantville, for four years.
Knipe had been searching for the right spot for a tasting room for more than a year. He was all in when the Hanfords’ high-profile retail space in the heart of Kensington became available.
He envisions his new tasting room serving as a community hub for Kensington residents.
“We will maximize the available space for the neighborhood to get together,” he said, noting the retail space will be reconfigured with a large bar, new décor, indoor seating and a small outdoor sidewalk patio out front.
“We’ve posted notice [of a liquor license application] in the window and have to wait 30 days,” Knipe said. “We’re on track to hopefully be open by the latter part of July.”
Characterizing craft brewing as “fun,” while noting he has always “enjoyed experimenting with recipes,” Knipe said the new tasting room will have a core selection of about half a dozen tried-and-true brew selections from his Mission Gorge location.
“We’ll be continuing to add different styles of beer to our list,” Knipe said, pointing out there are lots of surrounding restaurants eager to participate in his new business model.
“There is a lot of great food in the neighborhood, and our intent is to partner with restaurants to make their food available in our space,” Knipe said, adding he’ll also be bringing in a food truck to serve clientele in the rear of the tasting room on weekends.
Knipe said hours for the new business will be 3 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 3 p.m. to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.
The brewer acknowledged that they’ve inherited a great sound system to work with from Kensington Video. The system includes a 13-foot diagonal projection screen with state-of-the-art surround sound speakers, 10 in all, and a 4K Ultra Hi-Def wall 70-inch TV with Sonos sound both inside and outside the building.
Hanford feels good about passing the torch to Kensington Brewery.
“The three young men that will be the owners are truly amazing, positive, and energetic entrepreneurs that will make a great contribution to Kensington along with their plan to provide unique foods to their venue,” he said. “They have already reached out to a charitable organization and will be very proactive as a positive presence in our community.”
—Dave Schwab can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.