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Next month, Ceremony Brewing will open in Bonita Springs

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A building overlooking Old 41 Road along Tennessee Street could become a pedestrian-friendly destination.

Ceremony Brewing in Bonita Springs will soon open next month, after months of delays.

Zach Smith is a Naples native who fell in love making beer with a basic homebrew kit. Ceremony Brewing is a new venture that Smith plans to open in November.

Smith is a long-time entrepreneur who has wanted to open his own downtown brewery. Before settling on Packinghouse Lane, north of Bonita Beach Road on Old 41 Road after looking at several properties.

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John Manger, a property owner, met Smith just before COVID was implemented in March 2019. They had an instant connection and Manger purchased several properties to ensure Ceremony Brewing was located south of downtown.

Manger said that Zach was the reason he bought the building. But knowing that Zach would be there to help me build this brewery was enough for me.

Ceremony Brewing founder Zachary Smith plans to move his business to downtown Bonita Springs.

This building, across Old 41 Road is home to Donna’s Barber Shop and Smokin’ R BBQ. Manger also bought it. Ceremony Brewing is also located in the alley, which measures 15 feet. Manger envisions that the tiny square will become a pedestrian-friendly attraction over the next several years.

He said, “I hope it is a place that people from Fort Myers or south Naples go to on weekends – something very walkable and friendly were you can get food and drinks.” Kind of a destination. Not just for my property but for Bonita’s entire center.

The Bonita Springs City Council approved earlier this month the first stage of that plan, voting to grant Manger complete control over the alley connecting the buildings.

Smith claimed that the alley’s potholes were deep to the ankle and it had been neglected over decades. Smith and Henry presented to councilors a plan to redesign the alley in order to improve pedestrian accessibility and to reduce congestion. He said that the plan was preliminary and may change.

A small cluster of buildings housing Ceremony Brewing, Smokin R's BBQ, and other shops could become a pedestrian-friendly food and drink destination on Packinghouse Lane on Old 41 Road in Bonita Springs.

The city officials refused to surrender the right-of-way completely. Manger could temporarily be granted full access through a licensing arrangement, while the city retains control.

Finally, the city council voted 5-2 in favor of releasing all rights to the alley to Manger.

Mike Gibson, Councilor said that “my big idea is to redevelop downtown.” “I believe that the eviction would provide them with maximum flexibility in doing what they desire.

Manger needs approvals from city councils and construction will still take place for Manger’s dream to become a reality. However, he is eager to start after Ceremony Brewing opens.

He said, “There will still be lots of work to do but it must be done.” If we do the work right, it could become something very special.

Thaddeus MAST is a reporter at The Banner and Naples Daily News. Subscribing is a great way to support him and his work. You can find him at @thaddeusmast.

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