Paul Miller, owner of Circus Mojo
in Ludlow, Ky., is once again driving economic development in the city. This spring, he plans to open Bircus Brewing Co.
, which will combine the circus with a brewery.
Miller got the idea for a bircus after visiting Ghent, Belgium, where performers at Circusplaneet
earn money to operate their circus by selling beer. He got permission to license the concept and plans to use Belgian-inspired recipes for Bircus beer.
He also partnered with Marc Wendt of BrandFuel Co.
to design the Bircus concept from the ground up.
When Miller bought the old Ludlow Theater
five years ago, there wasn’t much going on Ludlow — there wasn’t even a grocery store. Now, there’s a grocery store, a new art gallery, two coffee shops
, three restaurants and a soon-to-be distillery.
“Ludlow used to have more bars than anywhere in Greater Cincinnati,” Miller says. “It was a railroad town, and there were three different shifts on the railroad, with about 10 bars that workers frequented. We want Bircus to be a place where people come and can find a beer that they like, a beer for the every man.”
Bircus will take over part of the theater, which is the current home of Circus Mojo. Miller also owns an old church around the corner from the theater, and he plans to move the Institute of Social Circus to the church to make room for the brewery and taproom.
In order to open the brewery, a number of renovations need to be done to the theater, including installing a ticket booth and marquee out front, putting on a new roof and creating a VIP balcony for private events in the old projection booth. Miller says that not much needs to be done to the building’s interior because it was a factory after the movie theater closed and was stripped down to the bones.
Miller recently got the building on the National Register of History Places. Because of that designation, Bircus will receive state and federal historic tax credits for renovation purposes. Miller also was approved by the Kentucky Department of Transportation for a tourism development loan to help with the project.
Ten percent of the profits from Bircus will be donated to the Social Circus Fund, which helps underwrite programs for children in Ludlow, nursing homes and hospitals. Bircus will also help bring more circus performers to the area, and Miller hopes to sell enough beer to bring a circus from Belgium to Ludlow.
And the bar or restaurant that sells the most Bircus beer during a given period will get a visit from Circus Mojo performers.
“I want to drive more international traffic to Greater Cincinnati,” Miller says. “I want to keep leveraging unique opportunities and expertise.”
Bircus is still looking for a brewmaster, and Miller is planning to hold interviews on Jan. 31.