A local couple is preparing to inject a little optimism into the Lehigh Valley beer scene. Brendan and Jackie Breslin will be opening the Wishful Thinking Brewing Co. in Bethlehem later this year, reports local media outlet 69 News.
The enterprising pair will be opening the taproom at 702 Broadway, a building which previously housed the Bavarian Tavern. Speaking with What Now Philadelphia, Brendan Breslin explained that he and Jackie’s friendship with the buildings owner-and fellow brewer-Sam Masotto led to Wishful Thinking’s new home. “We are close friends with Sam Masotto, the owner of Bonn Place Brewing also on the Southside of Bethlehem, and he’d actually purchased this building back in 2018….Fast forward through Covid times and Sam had decided he wanted to rent out the front space (which contains the bar, dining room, and kitchen), and maintain use of the back space for brewery storage. He had put a ton of work into the building, and the space was really move-in ready.”
Breslin adds “We had always admired the space and the work he’d done, but had not quite anticipated taking over any of it ourselves. When the idea entered the conversation though, we quickly knew it was the right location for Wishful Thinking Brewing.”
The opening of the taproom will be the culmination of a two and a half year search for the ideal location. Brendan and Jackie run a mobile pizza business called Pizza Post Co., which afforded them ample opportunity to discuss the endeavor with Masotto. Breslin explains “We were popping up weekly at Bonn Place serving our Detroit style pies from their back parking lot, and had continued the conversation with Sam on a regular basis, discussing how we’d utilize the space, our timeline, and so on. We decided to officially rent the front of the building in October of 2023, and have been working to finish fitting out the space since then! This natural progression – and the nature of our relationship with Bonn Place allowing this to be a cooperative venture in many ways – reinforced the timing of our decision.”
Breslin brings considerable brewing experience to the venture, having cut his teeth as an intern at Manayunk Brewing Company, then moving on to become the head brewer at both Stickman Brews and Pottstown United Brewing Company.
Opening Wishful Thinking will allow him and Jackie to not only create their own beers, but to build a uniquely warm and welcoming taproom. The pair is emphasizing community and connection, creating an inviting environment for guests to share. Jackie describes their goal as “We see this playing out through a taproom experience and an overall atmosphere that is full of both pleasure and contentment; one where you can settle in and stay awhile, enjoying beer that was brewed with intention and a sense of connection – back to nature, to one another, and to oneself.”
She continues “The ideal visit looks like entering our sun-soaked taproom, joining friends and neighbors at long, communal tables in our dining room, and embracing a general sense of community. We don’t plan to have TVs (though we’ll have a projector for certain games/events), so we hope that our space brings people together to share food and drink crafted from local agricultural products, enjoy conversation, and just really connect.”
In addition to pleasing ambiance and refreshing brews, guests can anticipate fresh, delicious cuisine made on site. Speaking of the menu, Breslin says “We mentioned our previous operation, Pizza Post Co., and anyone who’s had our pies will be happy to hear that they are going to be the main offering at Wishful Thinking’s taproom. Our pies are 8×10” pan pizzas with a super crunchy, cheesy crust. We craft our dough with locally grown and milled flour from Castle Valley Mill in Doylestown, PA, our sauce from First Field NJ tomatoes, and the majority of our toppings from local PA and NJ farms and suppliers. We plan to offer small bites such as soft pretzels (made with the same local flour), and boards featuring local meats, cheeses, veggies, and more. We have plans to expand our menu to feature sandwiches, stromboli/calzones, and more, as we get underway.”
Bethlehem residents can look forward to sipping a cool beer and enjoying a hot slice this spring. Wishful Thinking is aiming to open by late March or early April. Breslin explains that while there is still work to be done in opening the taproom, the development is moving along. “We are licensed federally but are still wrapping up the fitting out of the taproom and kitchen in order to be inspected by our local municipality, as well as the PLCB. We anticipate this all to happen concurrently in February.”
The Breslins are eager to bring a hopeful and joyful dining and drinking experience to the Lehigh Valley. Brelin sums up the brewery’s aspirations, stating “We hope that when a person enters our doors they feel the sense of optimism, imagination, and hopefulness that really led us to the creation of Wishful Thinking Brewing.”