One of Michael Brawleys earliest memories of the building at 4620 Park Road was of his father raising him up on an automotive lift, higher and higher until he towered over the hundreds of bottles of wine inside.
The lift was a remnant of the buildings previous life as a Crown service station, which was its purpose from 1948 until 1974, when Brawleys father Mike Brawley signed a lease on the building and opened Mikes Discount Beverages. The store was unlike any other in the area. Inside you could get a bottle of first-growth Bordeaux. Outside, you could fill your car with gas.
Michaels mother, Jean, remembers pulling up to those pumps in her El Dorado convertible with Michael and his sister in the back. Today, she is often behind the register at Brawleys Beverage, which Michael opened in 2003. (Michaels father sold Mikes Discount Beverages in 1987. The new owner stopped leasing the building in 2002 and moved his business next door. It is not affiliated with Brawleys Beverage.)
Now, Michael Brawley is renovating the old building to appear much as it did in his fathers day. He tore down the rounded exterior wall and replaced it with floor-to-ceiling windows, those big expanses of glass that were so commonly seen in old gas stations.
On the corners of the building he resurrected the two large wings that shot past the original buildings roof. He hopes to complete renovations and open the tasting room later this summer.
Though these architectural details are a nod to the buildings past, many of the changes are aimed at todays beer drinker. Behind all that new glass will be a tasting room with 11 taps. And on the wall past those taps, Brawley will recreate the old Crown sign, traces of which were only recently discovered beneath the paint. Outside, a patio and bocce court will sit in the shadow of the buildings wings.
Brawley hopes to create a family-friendly atmosphere, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen his 3-year-old daughter hanging with her dad and grandmother in the shop. Brawley doesnt raise her on the old lift, as his dad did him.
The lift is out of commission, its metal bones barely visible beneath the concrete and so many cases of beer. But order a keg and she will follow her father into the parking lot as he loads it up, knowing that a ride back in on the hand truck is sure to follow.
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