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Cosmic Eye Brewing

Sam Riggins plans to open Cosmic Eye Brewing at the old Laser Quest location near 70th and O streets. His proximity to Joseph's College of Hair Design requires a waiver from the city for a liquor license.

Sam Riggins started brewing beer at home about a dozen years ago, before starting work as a professional brewer for Nebraska Brewing Company in Papillion in 2010.

That job lasted about four years, before family responsibilities intervened and he could no longer justify the commute from Lincoln.

So he went back to home brewing.

But Riggins, who grew up in Fairbury, said opening his own commercial brewery was "always part of the plan."

That plan is now coming to fruition, as Riggins is partnering with his wife and his parents to open Cosmic Eye Brewing in a space formerly occupied by a laser tag center in the Shopper's Fair mall near 70th and O streets.

Riggins said the name has nothing to do with the former resident of his space. He actually planned to go with a different brewery name but ran into trademark issues.

With a deadline approaching to come up with a logo for some promotional artwork, Riggins said he pulled the name Cosmic Eye out of thin air after hearing the term used in the lyrics of a song.

He will keep some of the laser tag decor, including benches and black lights, but Riggins said he wants the focus to be on the beer.

Cosmic Eye will be a brewery with a tap room. There won't be a kitchen, but he said he will likely invite food trucks to the brewery often.

If all goes as planned, he hopes to be brewing beer at the site by July and open the taproom in August.

Riggins said he plans to do "a little bit of everything" when it comes to the beers that will be available, including American and India pale ales, Belgian and French farmhouse beers, as well as a "pretty extensive" selection of barrel-aged beers.

In addition to serving his beers at the taproom, he also plans to can most of the beers and get into distribution in Nebraska and outside the state.

"We'll probably open up a couple of other states (to distribution) pretty quickly," Riggins said.

Cosmic Eye likely will be the third brewery to open in Lincoln in 2018, after 5168 Brewing, which opened in January, and San Diego-based Green Flash, which is supposed to open next month in the former Ploughshare space at 16th and P streets.

It also will be the seventh brewery to open in the city since the beginning of 2016.

Riggins said he feels as though there is plenty of room for more craft breweries in Lincoln.

He pointed out that Fort Collins, Colorado, which is about the same size as Lincoln, has 30 craft breweries.

"I think we've got some room for the market to grow for sure," he said.

Riggins also believes locating in a part of the city where there are no other local breweries will be a big advantage.

Other than 5168, which opened at Village Gardens in far southeast Lincoln, every other locally owned brewery in town is either downtown or in southwest Lincoln.

"I really think our location is going to set us apart from where everybody else is," Riggins said.

There is Granite City Food & Brewery at Gateway Mall, which has a brewing operation, but it's a regional chain based out of Minnesota.

Riggins said he and his wife, who live just a few blocks southwest of Gateway, always wondered why there wasn't a local craft brewery in their part of town.

So when it came time to find a location, they looked at spots close to home.

Riggins said he actually started negotiating for the old Laser Quest space more than a year ago with the previous owner, but then the mall went into foreclosure and the deal had to be put on hold.

He finally got a lease deal hammered out with the new owner, local company New Generation Properties, which bought the mall at auction.

Cosmic Eye's location has raised a few eyebrows because it is next door to the People's City Mission's new Help Center, which opened last fall in the former Hancock Fabrics space.

But Riggins said there will be very little overlap between the operating hours of the brewery and the Help Center, which is only open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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