JOHNSON LAKE — A new brewery and family restaurant will be open at Johnson Lake in the spring of 2019. Michael and Jessica Bliven are working on getting the old RC Galley building converted to meet the needs of their business.
Michael and Jessica are both Lexington natives who graduated from Lexington High School in the same class in 1998. Both then attended college in Lincoln. Jessica went to the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and earned a degree in sociology, and Michael went to Southeast Community College and received a degree in culinary arts and restaurant management. The couple married in 2006 and moved to Eaton, Colorado, where they lived for 12 years. The couple has two children, Terrence, age 7 and Freya, age 3.
The couple has since moved back to Nebraska to be closer to family. “We needed to find a way we were both going to make a living,” Michael said. “I have been home brewing for 14 years, and we decided to get a brewery restaurant going.”
Michael also said that microbrewing and breweries were big in Colorado, and he saw the potential for one in the local area. “We thought it would be a good fit,” he said.
Jessica said Michael won several awards for his brews when the couple lived in Colorado.
The old RC Galley building offered the couple a chance to be in closer proximity to family. “It’s also a good location near the lake and the traffic,” Jessica said.
The couple remembered the building as the Red Rooster from when they lived in the area. “It hadn’t changed much from when we last remembered it,” said Jessica.
When asked about the challenges of opening a brewery, Michael said, “Keeping up with beer production and making sure we brew enough beer is important. We could have our hands full when the doors open.”
Michael also said they hope they don’t have to expand too quickly, and he wants a chance to grow into the space they have right now. “It’s an optimistic problem to have,” he said.
“It’s good to be back in the community we grew up in,” Jessica said, when asked about what they are excited about.
“This is the first time we have owned a business, but we are excited to go in on our own,” Michael said.
The name of the brewery is Canyon Lakes Brewing Company. Michael decided on the name after researching the local history of the Tri-County Canal system and how the different lakes in the area were referred to as the “canyon lakes.”
Beer is not the only thing that will be served at Canyon Lakes. A casual dining menu will be available, with appetizers, burgers and such.
“We want it to be a come as you are restaurant, with a laid back and fun atmosphere,” Michael said.
The beer served will be Michael’s own craft beer. “We plan to have staple beers and provide pale lagers to the darkest stouts and everything in between,” Michael said.
“We are not opening a bar or a tavern,” Michael said. “We want this to be a casual place for everyone…we want it to be family friendly.”