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Isley Brewing, long-running Scott’s Addition brewery, shutters

Mike Platania
Richmond BizSense File
Mike Isley opened the Isley Brewing Company in 2012.

Commercial rents in Richmond have been rising since the end of 2022.

The crowd was sparse Sunday afternoon as Isley Brewing Company — one of the longest running breweries in Scott’s Addition — moved toward its final last call.

The brewery, located along Summit Avenue, announced its closure on social media earlier that day.

A couple sat near the door with their dog, another patron sat at the bar and others filed in.

“Well, we did find out today that they were closing and it's our favorite beer — well my favorite beer — which is the Choosy Mother,” Allen McGaughey said. “That's what brought us back, to reminisce on the time we’ve spent here.”

He said the peanut butter porter was among his favorite drinks from the breweries in Scott’s Addition. Brittany McGaughey, his partner, agreed.

She added she was surprised that there weren’t more people grabbing a final draft.

“There were a lot of Facebook comments that said like, ‘Please tell me it’s not true,’ ‘Where are you moving to?’” she said.

The pandemic changed real estate across the country — and in the commonwealth. In the third quarter of calendar year 2019, Richmond’s retail vacancy rate was at 5.5%, according to data from Virginia Realtors. In the third quarter of 2023, it was down to 4.2%.

During that same time period, rent has increased $1.65 per square foot, according to the trade group.

Mike Isley, the company’s owner, didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday.

While Scott’s Addition is still home to a variety of breweries — like Strangeways, The Veil and Väsen — as well as a cidery and meadery, some in the industry have faced headwinds.

Champion Brewing Co. — a Charlottesville brand founded in 2012 by Hunter Smith — opened a spot along East Grace Street in 2016. The company decided not to renew its lease in 2019. This year, it ran into financial issues.

Another couple drove up from Williamsburg on Sunday for a final visit to Isley. They made the trip for more personal reasons.

Sam Edwards began: “So, two and a half years ago, we met here on a date — ”

“Our first date,” Gabi Klenzmann interjected.

“I used to live near here,” Edwards continued. “We met online, but our first date ended up being here and ever since then, it's kind of been our ‘Cheers,’ where we go and meet up with some friends and neighbors.”

Edwards said he favored the Czech Pilsner and Klenzmann leaned toward the Plain Jane Blueberry — in part because of that first date.

“I didn't know what I wanted,” Klenzmann recalled. “And I was like, ‘I like light beers.’ And he goes, ‘Plain Janes, two, coming up.’”

The couple said the brewery's owner and one of the bartenders are invited to their December wedding.

Dave Cantor has been an editor with VPM News since 2022, juggling daily digital and broadcast stories.