The Zony Mash Beer Project, a brewery, tasting room, restaurant and performance venue, will open in October in the space formerly home to Wayward Owl Brewing Company in the former Gem Theater at 3940 Thalia St.
Zony Mash is the brainchild of Adam Ritter, a Philadelphia native whose love affair with New Orleans began with a stint at Tulane University. The brewery name is taken from an album of rarities and unreleased songs by The Meters.
Ritter, who owned several bar and restaurant operations in Philadelphia, moved with his family to New Orleans five years ago.
After purchasing a building across the street, Ritter began spending time at Wayward Owl.
“This was my watering hole after I would get done with work,” Ritter says.
Ritter met brewing aficionado Mitchell Grittman, and the two started experimenting with home brewing and talked about opening a brewery. When Wayward Owl closed in 2018 and the building and brewing equipment became available, Ritter and Grittman took the plunge.
“We wanted to do something super small scale, small batch and artisanal, and this place presented itself,” Ritter says. “We weren’t necessarily thinking about doing a venue/brewery, but it’s all here. We just had to move things around and give it a personality.”
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Zony Mash’s primary focus will be the taproom rather than distribution.
“The market is flooded at this point,” Ritter says. “There’s only so much shelf space at the grocery, only so many faucets at the bars.”
Zony Mash will offer table service, and food will be available from a food trailer run by a yet-to-be-announced partner.
Because Zony Mash is permitted as a tasting room, not a bar, it will serve only its own beers and no spirits or wine. The brewery will mill its grain in-house. The focus will be Belgian-style beers, and Grittman will produce a range of styles and plans to have new offerings at least every other week. Those will include collaborations with other producers, including a milk brown coffee ale in conjunction with local roaster Congregation Coffee.
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There is a stage in the large taproom, and Zony Mash will offer entertainment including music, movies, comedy, family-friendly programs and more, Ritter says. The brewery is seeking city permits for live entertainment. A private room overlooking the taproom can be used for events.
Design for the renovation is being done by local architect Union Studios and incorporates woodwork by craftsmen Colin Keith and Brian Hughes.
The exterior design is meant to make the building more eye-catching.
“You’ve got 20,000 cars that travel north and south on Broad Street every single day,” Ritter says.
The tasting room will be lined with windows facing Broad Street. The brewery will have a lighted parking lot, and Ritter plans to open an outdoor beer garden by the end of the year.
Zony Mash will be open daily.