YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Beer fanatics made their way to downtown Youngstown Friday for the soft opening of Penguin City’s new taproom.

It’s been a year and a half in the making for the business situated at the old Republic Steel Warehouse on Federal Street in downtown Youngstown.

The property was purchased in 2020. Since then, they’ve spent countless hours transforming the space into a place for people to gather and enjoy beer while keeping its history alive.

“My days have been so long just brewing and trying to help get everything together,” said co-owner of Penguin City Brewery Richard Bernacki.

“To know that something like this you would have to go to Cleveland or Pittsburgh, now you can come to Downtown Youngstown and be part of something like this is really, really fun for us,” said Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki, a spokesperson for Penguin City Brewery.

The bar area was packed and the drinks were flowing. It all kicked off at noon!

You could even take a tour behind the scenes and see how this Youngstown specialty beer is made.

Also in the building is the DOPE Cider House and Winery. Owner Hannah Ferguson’s leasing the space from the Brewery.

“I’m forever grateful but I’m just excited, I’m nervous. It’s like all the feelings all at once,” said Ferguson.

She’s ready to serve up her drinks in the city she calls home.

“I’d been working on this for five years but it had to be here like it had to be in my hometown first,” said Ferguson.

After seeing what Penguin City Beer has done with an empty warehouse, it got another mayor thinking about what she could do to help her town with a similar vacant warehouse.

“Why can’t we emulate this and repeat this in Struthers, in our industrial park? Because that’s taking an old beautiful building and turning it into what you see now,” said Struthers Mayor Cat Cercone Miller.

Cercone Miller said she’s looking at a couple of buildings in CASTLO Industrial Park. She wants to replicate how Penguin City has opened its building to other small businesses like DOPE and soon Cockeye Barbeque.

“So not just having one place, one business, one entity occupy the whole thing but definitely look at different spaces and how we can section it off,” said Cercone Miller.

Penguin City Brewery is open until midnight Friday. There will be food trucks, music and beer specials.

Penguin City’s owners said they’re planning their official grand opening in Aug.