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Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company Faces Closure as Sawyer Yards Lease Terminated

Reports on Friday indicated that the lease of Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company at Sawyer Yards has been terminated, raising concerns about the potential permanent closure of the longstanding Houston brewery.

Sawyer Yards owner Jon Deal served Buffalo Bayou CEO William McLucas with a notice of default on Friday, leading to the immediate closure of the brewery and taproom at 2101 Summer St. Orange cones were placed to block access to the parking lot.

When contacted by Chron on Friday evening, McLucas had not responded to the reports.

Rassul Zarinfar established Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company in 2011, originally operating from 5301 Nolda St. in Rice Military. In December 2017, the brewery announced plans for a $14 million brewery and taproom at Sawyer Yards, initiating a fundraising campaign on the Houston-based investment platform Nextseed. The project aimed to raise $1 million from community investors, and construction began in November 2018 after successfully securing funds from 583 investors.

One year later, in 2019, Buffalo Bayou unveiled its expansive 28,000-square-foot complex at Sawyer Yards, boasting a rooftop beer garden with downtown views and a full-service food program led by chef Arash Kharat. Kharat, however, left Buffalo Bayou in 2022 to join Blood Bros. BBQ.

Despite the brewery’s grand opening, Buffalo Bayou faced controversies related to its brewery and taproom operations.

In April 2022, Nextseed investors received notifications from Republic, a private investment firm that acquired Nextseed in 2020, stating that the platform had issued a “notice of default” to Buffalo Bayou due to breach of payment terms. The brewery cited supply chain and distribution issues, along with reduced traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as reasons for being unable to fulfill monthly gross revenue percentages owed to investors.

In September 2022, financial services company Pimuro Capital Partners filed a lawsuit against Buffalo Bayou, claiming nonpayment of approximately $94,000. The court documents characterized Buffalo Bayou as a “failing Houston-based brewing company in dire financial straits.” Around the same time, CEO Zarinfar merged with McLucas, managing director and founder of Houston investment firm WPM Capital Partners, with McLucas assuming the role of CEO.

However, the merger sparked controversy, leading to a lawsuit in September 2023 by brewery shareholders who alleged lack of consultation regarding the merger and claimed that McLucas leveraged relationships to acquire Buffalo Bayou without compensating shareholders.

Buffalo Bayou’s abrupt closure adds to the challenges faced by breweries in the Houston area, with CounterCommon Beerworks & Kitchen, Black Page Brewing Co., and Ingenious Brewing all facing closures in recent months due to financial difficulties.