News Column

Lake Park's Brewhouse Gallery hopes to be catalyst for arts district

July 17, 2014

By Staci Sturrock, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

July 17--Good vibes are percolating at The Brewhouse Gallery, a Lake Park art gallery/coffeehouse/bar that has emerged in the past two months as one of the funkiest, friendliest destinations in Palm Beach County.

"Every person who walks in is like, 'Where have you been all my life?' " says co-founder A.J. Brockman, a 25-year-old Palm Beach Gardens digital artist whose portrait of the Obama family allowed him to meet the president in 2012. "We wanted to do something different -- not your typical Florida tiki bar or sports bar -- where creatives can get together and share."

With help from family members and friends, Brockman and business partner Bobby Hodson, a 31-year-old former professional poker player, transformed an adult daycare center with neon green walls into a high-ceilinged showplace for art out front with a cozy nook for hot and cold beverages in back.

"I was ready to gamble with this and see what could happen," Hodson says. "We knew it had the potential to be amazing."

On the menu: Oceana coffee from Tequesta and The Rabbit espresso from Riviera Beach; specialty sodas (Mexican Coca-Cola, Kentucky's Ale-8 ginger ale and Illinois' Cool Mountain cream soda); roughly 25 craft beers, including Monk in the Trunk, Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale and Due South Category 3 IPA; and wine.

With no liquor license, Brewhouse remains family-friendly, say the partners, and in lieu of a food license, they book food trucks to park in the alley out back, and encourage patrons to bring in their own chow or order delivery from neighboring restaurants like Camilli's Pizza.

On the walls: Paintings, photographs and ceramic pieces by South Florida artists who pay for three months of wall space in exchange for 100 percent of sales proceeds.

On the floor: Brockman and Hodson eschewed high-tops and booths in favor of mismatched sofas, chairs, ottomans and coffee tables purchased at estate sales and in vintage shops. Almost all of it's for sale, and much of it is easily moveable, so large parties can rearrange the seating to their needs.

On the shelves: Art books, board games, decks of cards, jigsaw puzzles and a communal sketchbook with art supplies -- a clubhouse-worthy collection of fun, says Brockman. "It's more about community and culture than anything."

On the calendar: Musicians and stand-up comics on the weekends, cornhole tournaments on Mondays and wildly popular trivia nights on Wednesdays, and craft classes for kids on Sunday afternoons. This Friday, singer-songwriters Lyss Emerson & Harly Lancia will open for the Killbillies at 8 p.m., and Woody's Burgers will serve Booms, Burgittos and fresh-cut fries.

On the down low: Be sure to visit one of the Brewhouse restrooms; their walls are a chalkboard canvas awaiting your personal touch.

On the horizon: Hodson and Brockman hope the success of Brewhouse Gallery will encourage other entrepreneurs to put down roots in Lake Park and help them grow an arts district there. Says Brockman, "If Delray can do it, and Northwood can do it ..." Hodson finishes his thought: "There's no reason why we can't."


(c)2014 The Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, Fla.)

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Source: Palm Beach Post (FL)

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