Bunnyman Brewing is looking to return to the source of its legendary namesake by conjuring up a second location at Lorton’s Workhouse Arts Campus.
The Fairfax-based brewery is in the midst of negotiating a lease to move into 4,500 square-foot space at the county-owned Workhouse Arts Campus in Lorton, Bunnyman co-owner Sam Gray confirmed to FFXnow.
At yesterday’s meeting, the Board of Supervisors authorized a public hearing for Dec. 6 in regard to the county leasing property to the brewery.
If approved, this would be Bunnyman’s second location and Gray said the hope would be to open at 9514 Workhouse Way prior to Halloween 2023.
Over the summer, construction began on a $6.3 million renovation of two buildings at the Workhouse campus, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Board Chairman Jeff McKay noted at the time that the county hoped a restaurant or brewery would move into those buildings.
Bunnyman is now poised to take over one of the refurbished spaces, known as Building W-13 — a fitting turn of events, since the brewery is named after a local legend that involves the Workhouse Arts Center, which was once the Lorton Reformatory.
As one version of the story goes, Clifton had an asylum in the early 20th century, but the small town’s residents didn’t like the idea of having patients there. So, it was shut down, and all the patients were put on a bus destined for the Lorton prison. However, the bus crashed before reaching its destination.
The authorities were able to reapprehend every inmate — except for one who was never found, leaving only gutted, half-eaten bunnies as clues.
One Halloween night years later, a group of kids hanging out under the Colchester Overpass near Fairfax Station supposedly saw a flash of light. The next morning, police find the kids gutted and half-eaten, like the bunnies left by the inmate.
There is likely no more than a kernel of truth to the story, but Gray — a retired Fairfax County firefighter — grew up with it and thought there was no better name for his brewery.
“It’s the legend we grew up with that was purely Fairfax. Anyone that grew up in the area could relate,” he said. “We are proud of our area and it was the most relevant, fun historical symbol that made sense.”
The Building W-13 renovation is expected to wrap up soon, possibly letting Bunnyman’s ownership move into the space by February. If that happens, Gray says he could have the brewery open by next fall.
The plan is to brew drinks on-site, but on a smaller scale than its main location on Guinea Road in Fairfax. There will also be a “limited fun in-house food selection,” along with cider and possibly wine.
The lease with the county calls for an 18-month rent abatement and is expected to generate about $109,000 on a yearly basis for the public coffers, per a staff report.
As for the other renovated building on campus, dubbed Building W-15, the county continues “to seek a prospective tenant,” according to staff.
Gray is excited that his brewery has the opportunity to move into such a unique and historic space.
“We…believe the corridor and Laurel Hill/Lorton area is set for good future growth,” he said. “Part of the Bunnyman legend is the prison and we look forward to being part of that growth.”
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