Update: Tidewater Brewing, Wilmington’s first co-op brewery won’t move forward with plans

Tidewater Brewery in Wilmington suffered heavy damage following Hurricane Florence. (Source:...
Tidewater Brewery in Wilmington suffered heavy damage following Hurricane Florence. (Source: WECT/Emily Featherston)(WECT/Emily Featherston)
Updated: Aug. 1, 2020 at 3:00 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - More than two years ago, a new brewery announced it would be opening in Wilmington.While the region has no shortage of breweries, Tidewater Brewing was going to be different, it was to become the first ‘co-op’ brewery in the region. This meant that everyday people would have the opportunity to be ‘co-owners’ of the brewery.

After suffering significant damage to the brewery’s building during Hurricane Florence owners have confirmed they will not be moving forward with the project.

It was an opportunity for people who had always wanted to be involved in a local craft brewery, but didn’t have the means to make it happen.

For $200 per share, individuals would be given partial ownership in the company and would benefit from the brewery’s successes -- but it also meant that those who invested would also suffer from the brewery’s losses.

Just weeks before Tidewater’s opening, Hurricane Florence hit the region and the building that was to house the new brewery was devastated. The roof was ripped off the main building located at 1002 Princess Street, and water damage was widespread.

Following the storm, the owners of the brewery announced that the repair work would set the opening of the brewery back several months, but it was clear that plans for Tidewater were moving forward.

In October of 2018, owners of the brewery started a GoFundMe account to help offset repair costs, because while the building was insured, it would not cover everything.

The effort raised nearly $10,000.

Other breweries in the area including Iron Clad and Salty Turtle Brewing hosted their own fundraisers to help their fellow brewers rebuild as well, and rebuild they did.

In the months after the storm, repairs on the building began, as documented by the company on social media, however, the last post from the company on Instagram came at the end of January of 2019.

The last update from Tidewater Brewing came at the end of January 2019, since then more repairs...
The last update from Tidewater Brewing came at the end of January 2019, since then more repairs have been completed, but the brewery has yet to open.(Instagram)

Since then, the brewery’s Facebook page appears to have been deleted, and the website, which previously provided a look at what was to come, is now gone as well. The building, which is located on Princess Street is further along with its repairs now and from the outside things look to be as good as new, but on the inside, it is anyone’s guess.

On Aug. 2, 2019, an update was provided on the GoFundMe page by the organizer, Cassandra Kelley offering a little bit of insight into the status of the brewery.

“We are providing an update on the status of Tidewater Brewing Company. Since Tidewater doesn’t own the 1002 Princess Street building, we are working with the landlord through the rebuilding process. Due to the extensive damage incurred, it has been a lengthy process and we don’t have a definitive timeline to share at this time. Tidewater Brewing Company will share additional updates in the future as they become available,” Kelley wrote. “The Go Fund Me donations raised to date have been put aside and are earmarked to assist with Tidewater’s rebuilding efforts.”

Now, Kelley has confirmed that plans for the brewery have been canceled and money donated for rebuilding efforts would be returned.

“It is with a heavy heart that Tidewater Brewing Company shares the news with you that Tidewater will not be moving forward with its plan to open a brewery at 1002 Princess Street, in the Coca-Cola district of Wilmington.  The Tidewater team has been working tirelessly for the past 18 months trying to resolve what have become insurmountable obstacles associated with the business location and Hurricane Florence damage. We are presently working to close down what is remaining of the business and will be returning all Go Fund Me donations,” she said.

The funds had been set aside for rebuilding purposes according to Kelley, but since that is no longer going to happen the owners are working to refund these donations.

“With respect to Go Fund Me donations, those funds have been held aside in the hope that we would be able to rebuild. Since that is no longer the case, Tidewater was recently in touch with Go Fund Me and were told that since the campaign was more than 6 months ago, we will need to manually refund each donor, Go Fund Me can’t do it for us automatically.  Tidewater will begin that process within the next week by reaching out directly to each donor and offering a refund via Venmo. We wanted to thank the Wilmington community for believing in our dream and wanting to be a part of it,” she concluded.

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