ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- The bar business is one of the toughest industries around, and one local brewery is celebrating its success by marking ten years in Rockford.
Laughter and excited chatter fills the Carlyle Brewing Company in downtown Rockford as patrons celebrate the pub's tenth anniversary. It comes at a time when downtown is beginning to blossom, and is a milestone some said would never happen for owner Don Carlyle.
“There was a brewery, it closed down and left a bad taste in Rockford,” says Don Carlyle. “People thought I was a little crazy on the way I designed it. I wanted something different for Rockford; not your typical sports bar.”
Regulars say since the brewery moved in, there's been a noticeable change in the atmosphere downtown.
"Fifteen years ago, it used to be a ghost town," says Mike Link, who’s been coming to Carlyle since the beginning. "Carlyle has kind of become one of the anchor stores downtown."
Next door neighbor Daniel Nelson has been selling sweets at his chocolate shop for six years, and thinks the brewery has helped bring some positive energy to the area.
“He [Don] was taking a great risk. He was downtown, we jokingly say before downtown was cool. His ability to gut through and make it happen despite all the obstacles and challenges a small business owner faces was very encouraging," says Daniel Nelson.
Over at his brewery, Carlyle is serving up a new anniversary ale, with its own special glass, as a way to say thank you to old and new customers.
"We appreciate them all, without them, we wouldn’t be here." says Carly, who add, he's hoping to squeeze in a vacation sometime during his next decade in business.
If you missed the party on Wednesday, Carlyle is serving the special anniversary brew for the rest of the week, or until it runs out.