Democracy Brewing: Bringing the European Brewhouse Feel Stateside with Parterre Flooring
Democracy Brewing is a worker-owned brewery and pub founded by a former economic justice organizer turned brewer, James Razsa, and veteran brewer Jason Taggart. Razsa, Taggart and their team wanted to establish a brewery that blended old-world brewpub charm with classic Boston character. Located in the former Windsor Button building at 35 Temple Place, Democracy opened for business on the Fourth of July — fitting for a brewery that describes itself as celebrating “Boston’s rowdy revolutionary history from the 1700s to the present”.
The team selected EMBARC, a successful Boston-based architect and design firm, to head the interior design of the space, tasking the design firm with creating a unique and inviting “traditional public house” in the heart of Boston.
EMBARC Interior Designer Michelle Acosta took on the project, eventually turning to a flooring provider the firm had used for previous projects, Parterre Flooring Systems, for LVT designs to fit the look Democracy was going for.
Years ago, renovations had been started for a restaurant space, but were never completed. When Democracy took over the space, they knew extensive renovations would be required to create the atmosphere they were after.
“Breweries are industrial as much as they are hospitality spaces; being true to both, and mindful of the use was imperative to the design and specifications,” said Acosta.
The owners wanted more of an “old world aesthetic” and aimed to stay away from the typical modern industrial design of some other breweries they were familiar with. They were also interested in reflecting the look and feel of original brewhouses one might find in Germany, while also incorporating Boston’s revolutionary history into the design as well.
A challenge in any hospitality space, the flooring chosen needed to stand up to heavy foot-traffic and food or drink spills that were likely to happen in such a busy space. Acosta knew from the start luxury vinyl would be an ideal choice for the brewery. Parterre came to mind quickly, as she had used the luxury vinyl products on previous projects in the past.
Acosta eventually selected Heart Pine, a natural wood look from Parterre’s InGrained Resilient Plank collection, for the entire second floor space.
“We wanted the luxury vinyl to have a reclaimed appearance. The color fit in seamlessly with all the other design elements, while also acting as a perfect backdrop to the space,” said Acosta. “Everything fell into place – the graining was right, the color was ideal, the price point was perfect. It was a no brainer for this project.”
Heart Pine fit perfectly with the aesthetic the owners of Democracy Brewing were striving for. The design team paired design elements like exposed brick walls and textured plaster ceilings with the flooring to tie the old in with the new. Some authentic-feeling brewery fixtures were also incorporated into the space including traditional German beerhall communal tables and a Victorian-style dining enclave nestled at the end of the bar. These design elements combined with the Revolutionary War-era paintings and photos offered the right balance of grit and warmth.
The result was a successful transformation of the former sewing and crafts store into a brewery that any patron would feel comfortable in. The 85-seat dining room is even adorned with a painting of Lady Liberty hoisting a mug of beer, staying true to the historic charm of Democracy Brewing.
The employee-owned business model that Democracy believes in is reflected throughout the design of the space, combining the Revolutionary War-era paintings and photos with the inviting feel of the other design elements, including the luxury vinyl product chosen.
“All the finishes in the space are grittier, but with a warmth and refinement to them. The flooring tied in well with that aesthetic,” said Acosta.