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Keith Towles, a fifth-generation Southwest Floridian, knew he wanted out of the construction business and in the brewery business. He just wasn’t sure what that would look like and how he would do it. 

In Voodoo Brewing Co., Keith and Mashelle Towles found the right business model for them. They found it, they said, “from the algorithm,” meaning, they searched for it online. 

Voodoo Brewing Co. began in 2005 and has since expanded to five corporate locations and 14 franchise locations, with the Fort Myers spot being the first to open in Florida. 

Voodoo Brewing Co. in Fort MyersWhen the brewpub’s Fort Myers location opened six weeks ago at 2400 First St. in downtown Fort Myers, it did so by taking the traditional microbrewery business model and turning it upside down. 

Instead of brewing the beer on-site and bringing in food on food trucks, Voodoo does the opposite. Chefs prepare the food from scratch in the Voodoo kitchen, while the beer gets trucked down to Fort Myers from the brewery in Meadville, Pennsylvania. 

“We have a full kitchen and a full menu,” Mashelle Towles said. “That’s the difference.” 

There are 24 beers on tap, chilled to 30 degrees. Seven are guest taps, mostly from regional microbreweries. The rest are Voodoo’s own brewed beer, which cost $7.50 to $12 per pint. 

Menu items include burgers, pizza, salads and appetizers. 

“I love the beer,” Mashelle Towles said. “Love the beer. The beer is out of this world. For beer connoisseurs, we have everything. 

“Voodoo Love Child is my favorite. It’s a Triple Belgium. It’s cherries, raspberries and passion fruit. It’s 9.2 [alcohol by volume]. So, it will sneak up on you.” 

Voodoo Brewing Co. in Fort MyersPatrons order from a QR code from their tables. That process has some newcomers taking a few minutes to get acclimated, she said, but they are catching on quick. 

Voodoo has about 30 employees on staff. 

“We have a very affluent chef,” Mashelle Towles said. “Everything is made inhouse from scratch. So, we are a fresh kitchen.” 

Keith Towles is finishing construction on the last few of the single-family homes he has been building for TowlesCorp of Southwest Florida. After that, he will focus full-time on Voodoo. 

Mashelle Towles had a background as a hairdresser. But when the opportunity arose to get involved with Voodoo, she took it. She said she liked the culture, and she has embraced it. That means allowing customers to write on some of the walls. 

“We want the community to express themselves in vibrant colors,” she said. “We’ve allowed them to just say what they want to say. We close every night and go through them and read it, and it just opens our hearts.” 

Voodoo Brewing Co. in Fort Myers“The whole concept is going to be focused on the community and doing community events and fundraisers,” Keith Towles said. 

Keith and Mashelle Towles said they also love the location. What had once been a Bank of America branch and, more recently, Soul of Life wellness studio, has been converted. 

“We’ve always felt that this end by the library, it needed something,” Keith Towles said of downtown. He credited Kearns Restaurant Group with jump-starting downtown dining. Voodoo now brings it some competitionbut also, he said, some variety to get more people downtown. 

“I can’t take anything away from what they’ve done, because if they hadn’t come in with their multiple restaurants, who knows what downtown would be,” Keith Towles said. “We needed some different ones. Because we are downtown and within walking distance, people have never had the experience of going to a brewery and trying other beers. So, we’re getting a lot of first-timers. So far, it has been a very, very positive experience.” 

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