In 1999, Plainville native and Fort Hays State University Alumni Chuck Comeau launched a new business, Liberty Group, with a goal of redeveloping and revitalizing downtown Hays. Within two years, the physical restoration of several historic downtown buildings began and to date has grown to encompass over 20 buildings in downtown Hays.
In the summer of 2005, Comeau recognized the need for a cornerstone restaurant in the newly thriving entertainment and arts district, by then known as “The Chestnut Street District.” He brought together a team of more than 50 local investors with passion not only for downtown, but also for the local German heritage, and they began planning a microbrewery and restaurant that would serve top-notch craft beer and innovative pub fare. The name “Gella” is a traditional German slang term for “yes,” and the brewery’s title, Lb., is short for “liquid bread,” as bread and beer have common ingredients.
The renovations of the four structures that Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Co. call home pay homage to the original buildings’ architecture, each one built between 1919 and 1938, but in a chic, updated urban style designed by Comeau. Interior murals, painted by Fort Hays State University students, pay tribute to signs that once adorned downtown Hays businesses. The space, once forgotten and decaying behind sheets of aluminum, is now packed daily with locals and out-of-town visitors.
Four months after opening its doors, Lb. Brewing Co. entered its first professional brewing competition, the renowned Great American Beer Festival (GABF), winning the first of nine GABF medals. In 2009 and 2010, Lb. Brewing Co. won back-to-back gold medals for the No. 50 Liberty Stout. Also in 2010, Lb. earned a Gold World Beer Cup Award for the No. 06 Oatmeal Stout. In 2013, the brewery and its brewer were named Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub Brewer of the Year at the GABF, the first Kansas brewery to receive this prestigious honor.
In 2013, Gella’s Diner expanded its offering to catering services. With an extensive and unique catering menu, Gella’s provides catering for weddings, business conferences, and countless other events in the area.
Approximately halfway between Kansas City and Denver on Interstate-70, downtown Hays is more than a pit stop for road trippers—it’s a place to spend time together and feel a sense of community. If you love small town charm and cultural heritage, take time to stop at Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co. Each weekend features a new dinner and dessert special created by head chef Manuel Hernandez. Seasonal brews are announced monthly, and all-natural root beer and
crème soda are handcrafted in-house as well. Growlers are available to take your favorite craft brew home.