BENNINGTON — There's now at least 18 new reasons to visit the Catamount Glassware factory.
That's the number of craft beers on tap at the Tap House at Catamount Glass. And there are many more beyond the libations, including a new retail space and upgrades to the manufacturing room floor that allow it to double as an after-hours entertainment space.
The Tap House is a place where visitors can enjoy a drink and pub fare food, according Alain Karyo, founder and CEO of Catamount Glassware Inc. And the adjacent retail outlet allows visitors to peruse the company's wide variety of glassware.
Both spaces have gotten a positive response from the community since they opened in June, Karyo said. So much so that he didn't think there was enough room for people to visit the factory at 309 County St.
"That's when I came up with one of the most brilliant ideas I've ever had," Karyo said during a tour of the facility Tuesday. "I realized our manufacturing facility was only used in the day. After that and on weekends, it was empty space."
The factory's manufacturing floor recently saw several improvements, like the refinishing of hardwood floors and hanging of decorative lights. The same space that holds the factory's production line is a new location for live music, tastings and social events.
Karyo, a sculptor and student of modern architecture, founded Catamount Glassware in 1979 and the manufacturing facility has been at its current location since 1984. The company designs glassware and specializes in screen printing its own products and glassware requested by clients. A number of products, from a patented glass popcorn popper and specialized glass kitchen products that it sells to retailers like William-Sonoma, to the growlers and pint glasses it screen prints for various breweries, are available in the new space.
The mill building was originally built in 1901 and produced corsets, long underwear and then tools before Catamount Glassware.
The expansion started last winter. A 10-by-40-foot boiler room in the front of the building was completely cleaned and gutted. New high-top tables, a bar and beer cooler were installed.
Much of the building's character remains intact, with exposed brick throughout.
"We wanted to maintain an industrial feel to it," said Adam Volpi, vice president of operations at Catamount Glassware and Karyo's son.
Much of the windows and doors were reused, they said. Metal siding from the building was used by Karyo to make sculptures which hang inside the retail space.
"We didn't want to throw anything away," Karyo said.
The tap house menu is growing and currently includes pub food such as nachos, jumbo soft pretzels and soup. Other items include paninis, chicken wings, pizza, and hot chocolate lava cake (with whipped cream).
Volpi said craft beers from New England were given priority. Among the 18 brews on tap are Northshire of Bennington as well as Browns, Otter Creek, Switchback and von Trapp.
The manufacturing floor will be able to host parties, live music and other events, Karyo said. He said he'd like to start hosting wine tastings sometime this spring.
Making use of that space, he said, is one way his business is adapting to a changing world. More people are shopping online rather than in a store – he noted Williams and Sonoma, one of his company's biggest customers, had online sales which exceeded store sales.
"We wanted to expand, but wanted to expand on what we have," he added. "We could have expanded to China, but that wouldn't have done any good for the community."
It is also another reason for visitors to stay longer in the area and gives locals another place to go.
"The more businesses and restaurants you have in town, the better the town will be," Karyo said.
The Tap House hosts football parties every Sunday at 11 a.m. and a trivia night every Wednesday at 7 p.m.
For more information, visit the Tap House at Catamount Glass on Facebook or at www.taphouseatcatglass.com.
Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979