What the Ale: Pryor's Fat Toad Brewing joining the MidAmerica Industrial Park in large expansion

Story and photos by Tom Gilbert Tulsa World | Jul 3, 2020

Pryor’s Fat Toad Brewing Co. just won the craft beer lottery.

Its brewery is moving a quarter mile down the road to The District, a new development operated by the MidAmerica Industrial Park, the state’s largest industrial park that includes business such as Google, DuPont and Nordam.

Fat Toad opened its current brewery two years ago at 3986 W. 530 Road, just 37 miles from Tulsa. The District is a 162-acre development that incorporates retail, residential, parks and trails.

Dave Miller and Chris Harrison, along with their wives, Angela Miller and Kim Harrison, worked together to get the brewery off the ground. Miller is the brewmaster and is excited to jump from a three-barrel system to a 15-barrel system. There’s also a huge jump in square footage.

“This new place is 5,600 square feet, which is a major jump from where we’ve come from, which is about 2,400 square feet,” Miller said.

Beer isn’t the only thing that will be produced across the street from Google’s second-largest data center in the world. Fat Toad will also have a brick oven pizza oven that will turn the brewery into a brew pub.

“So we have some work ahead of us here, but we are excited to share the love of our craft beers and artisan pizzas with our local community. Our community here in Pryor has been great,” Miller said. “We were unsure of being in such a small area when we first opened our initial brewery, and it has just really taken off.

“We get people from other states visiting, we found out that there is a tourism element that we weren’t aware of as far as our customer base. We have drop-in customers from Kansas and Missouri. We’ve met lots of people. It’s fun because we love our local community and our friends and others coming together and seeing the synergy between the two has been really fun to watch.”

MidAmerica Industrial Park is a small city with up to 6,000 people working or doing construction on-site, and this opportunity for Fat Toad would not have happened if it weren’t for them.

“We were approached by MidAmerica Industrial Park to talk about teaming up with us to bring the brewery down here to what they are calling The District. The Industrial Park employs thousands of people on a daily basis so there are a lot of people in and out of this area. There’s not a whole lot of places for this community, for the employees, especially inside and out of the industrial park, we wanted to give them the support,” Chris Harrison said.

The brew pub will seat about 120 people inside and has a large covered patio area that will hold even more. They also plan to hold special events next door in the brewhouse.

“We can do temporary seating like wedding receptions, company parties, things like that. We have a community area out front that will be incorporated in our seating area,” Harrison said.

Going to a 15-barrel system is a big jump from a three-barrel. A barrel equals 31 gallons. So a 15-barrel system can hold 465 gallons. Fat Toad has the system on order, but it may not be here for the scheduled Oct. 1 opening. The brewery has also purchased a canning line with hopes of distribution in the state.

“We hope to distribute to liquor stores and hopefully get into Walmart. We will still be able to open here on a small scale to serve the taproom and start the brick oven pizza,” Harrison said.

Fat Toad doesn’t have a long history. It started just about six years ago. But it has been a staple at most beer festivals for quite a few years, getting feedback on its beers.

“I walked into Dave’s garage and asked him what he was doing. He was brewing beer. I had no idea that it was going to lead to this at all. So this is above and beyond what I thought would happen for sure,” Harrison said.

MidAmerica’s history is a long one. It started as a black powder munitions plant for World War II. In 1960, the assets were contributed to a MidAmerica.

“The water plant, the waste treatment plant, all of the land and the roads were put into this trust, the revenues generated from that trust have been dedicated to education, infrastructure and now to create this sense of place at MidAmerica. We have over 80 companies here and with the construction workers, we have almost 6,000 people that come to work here every day in a lot of diverse industries, Google right across the street, the second-largest data center in the world. They love it here because we are so easy to work with. So they have expanded over time,” said MidAmerica’s Chief Administrative Officer David Stewart.

“What you are seeing now is the culmination of a lot of work to create a very positive quality of life environment for the people that work here and the residents of Pryor. So you are seeing a multi-use development that is going to have entertainment, several restaurants and some retail space. It is going to be a place where everyone in Pryor can come and all the people that work here, over 4,000 people, can come here and spend an evening and have an enjoyable day,” Stewart said.

MidAmerica’s The District will be filled with different businesses. It will complement the industrial park with the needs of the workforce.

“Fat Toad is a great fit for The District. No. 1, they are local, they started their business right next door and they are entrepreneurs and took this leap to be here. We made it very conducive for them to come to The District because we promote businesses, we promote entrepreneurship, we promote the local community. So they were a perfect fit, and they are excited about it,” Stewart said.

MidAmerica kicked off an initiative all about “creating a sense of place,” and The District fits right in.

“A sense of place is more about quality of life, not only do we have land and roads, but we have a BMX track now. We have The District, and we have other things in the hopper that we are going to bring. We want to create a mini-city for people to live, work and play,” Stewart said.

Building a brewery is a great first step to bringing people together. Other businesses will be needed to round out The District’s retail. John Peters and Clayton Harris of Adwon Properties are in charge of getting that together.

“We have been working on getting very complementary types of businesses that will not only be a benefit to the patrons but also be able to feed off of each other. With a built-in workforce directly across the street, anybody that has an opportunity to be in the space is going to have a great competitive advantage that doesn’t exist anywhere in northeast Oklahoma,” Peters said.

There will be all kinds of walking and biking trails that are connecting to all the surrounding communities, Harris said.

“You don’t have to get into a car, you can just walk right over and enjoy a beer on the patio or get your hair cut next door in kind of a one-stop shop for all your needs in northeast Oklahoma,” Harris said.

“In addition to the restaurants and hair salons and stores like these, we are also looking for lifestyle tenants such as gyms, any kind of active shops. We are trying to increase both benefits of the restaurants but the connectivity of the surrounding areas and hopefully find some tenants that increase the cohesion we already have going for us now.”

There is about 30,000 square feet of retail space at The District. Housing units and two-bedroom apartments will be within walking distance of The District.

Fat Toad has a lot to do, but with the support of its community and MidAmerica, it will be a much easier process. An amazing journey after only two years.