Midvale’s Bohemian Brewery, famous for European-style lagers and bratwurst, has new owners — three businessmen who, in recent years, have saved other homegrown eateries and historic buildings in Utah.
Bohemian now is the fifth eatery for partners Matt Bourgeois, Byron Lovell and Brian O’Meara, who also own and operate Porcupine Pub and Grille in Salt Lake City and Cottonwood Heights, The Dodo in Sugar House and the Rio Grande Cafe in downtown Salt Lake City.
All the restaurants are operated under the Canyon Culinary Inc. umbrella.
Bohemian is one of 10 Utah breweries participating in the second annual Food Truck and Brewery Battle on Aug. 4. The all-ages event runs from 4 to 10 p.m. at The Gateway, 100 S. Rio Grande St., Salt Lake City. (See details below.)
Owning a brewery is something the Culinary Canyon partners have wanted since opening the first Porcupine Pub at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon in 1998, said Bourgeois. Back then, the restaurateurs were starting out and couldn’t afford to buy brewing equipment, he said. “Brewing has always been on our mind."
Now they get to do it at one of Utah’s pioneering breweries.
Joe and Helen Petras originally opened Bohemian Brewery in 2001, hoping to introduce Utah diners to the food and beer of their native Czechoslovakia. But they didn’t serve just any beer.
Joe Petras — who died in 2012 of a heart attack — was interested in making lagers, which are more difficult and require more time to produce than ales.
Ales are brewed using a warm fermentation method, making them ready to drink in about a week. Lagers — the German word for stored — are aged at lower temperatures, requiring anywhere from six weeks to six months before they are drinkable.
Bohemian also was among the first U.S. brewers to package microbrewed beer in aluminum cans, which experts say is better for the beer and the environment.
Under the new ownership, Bohemian’s three signature beers — a crisp, full-bodied Czech pilsner, an amber-colored Viennese lager and the dark Cherny Bock Schwarzbier — will remain the same, said Bourgeois. “We are staying true to the Bohemian style that Joe set up."
New brews will be added. One of the first will be a Mexican-stye lager for the Rio Grande Cafe, said Bourgeois.
Bohemian staffers at the brewery and the restaurant have remained the same since the purchase about three months ago. So has the menu that includes bratwurst, pierogies and goulash. The only tweaks have been some upgrades in the kitchen.
“Joe and Helen ran a successful business, so we don’t feel like we have to change or fix things,” he said. “We are just carrying on what they started.”
Customers will see upgrades in the future.
In addition to buying the beer production facility and the restaurant, the partners purchased land to the east of the main property, 94 E. 7200 South, where they eventually hope to expand the brewery, the retail store and the tasting room.
Buying historic buildings and businesses that are iconic in Utah’s dining history seems to be a trend for the Canyon Culinary group.
In May 2014, it purchased the former Market Street Broiler building near the University of Utah from Gastronomy Inc. Once an old firehouse, the building was renovated and turned into the company’s second Porcupine Pub.
Then, in 2017, the partners purchased the 36-year-old Rio Grande Cafe, inside Salt Lake City’s historic Rio Grande Depot. The restaurant’s original owner was retirement age and had grown tired of the crime and security issues that the homeless population brought to the downtown area. Since then, Operation Rio Grande was implemented and the environment has improved.
Ironically, those purchases along with Bohemian Brewery were never in the original business plan, Bourgeois explained. As opportunities have arisen, the partners have jumped at them.
“These are great concepts that we love and frequent,” he said. “For us, it’s just fun to take them and care for them and grow them back out.”
FOOD TRUCK & BREWERY BATTLE
The second annual Food Truck & Brewery Battle, an all-ages event, has expanded from last year and will included 10 Utah breweries and 18 food trucks — 12 of which will be vying for the Best New Food Truck Award. Entertainment includes DJs, Barzz artists, karaoke, comedians and The Bboy Federation.
When • Saturday, Aug. 4, 4 to 10 p.m.
Where • The Gateway, 100 S. Rio Grande, Salt Lake City
Price • Admission is free, but bring your wallet to buy food and beer
Sponsors • The Food Truck League, U92 and The Salt Lake Tribune
Details • https://www.facebook.com/events/1830171210612620/