Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Sam Gray opened the first Bunnyman Brewery in the Burke area in 2021 and is planning the second in one of the former prison buildings in Lorton. Gray and business partner Eric Barrett are working with Fairfax County to get their paperwork done by Feb. 1.
All the interior adjustments on the old prison building have yet to be done, but one design element they want to include is artwork from the Workhouse Arts Center on the walls. It will be for sale there. “We’re going to work with the Workhouse Art Center to showcase art,” he said.
Gray grew up in the area, listening to tales of the Bunnyman from way back when, and he’s working with local artist Jenny Leggett to get the logo and marketing material down for the Lorton location. Leggett is Barrett’s sister-in-law.
David Avis is another local artist that’s helping with the effort.
When the building work starts, they hope to incorporate materials from the old prison, although they haven’t got any specifics on that part. “I’ll take what I can scavenge,” he said.
Gray started his career working with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department as a station commander. He lives in Clifton on the same road that the Bunnyman Bridge is located, but he plays down the bridge. There’s been a lot of attention at the bridge, and the local homeowners are not happy when it attracts a crowd. Especially when high school teens come to scare their girlfriends, which happens sometimes around Halloween.
Jack Ohman and Mitch Pilchuk are the brewers at the current location and initially, the beer will be shipped down to Lorton. “We’re upgrading the tanks right now,” Gray said.
A local archivist named Brian A. Conley set out to prove or disprove this story, and found there was never an asylum in Clifton or two murders like that, so it seemed like a closed case.
Then in 1970, Robert Bennett and his fiancée reported they were attacked by a man in a bunny suit when they were sitting in a car on the 5400 block of Guinea Road. They called the police but no one was ever caught and no bunny suit ever found. But the legend lives on.
There is a complete line of t-shirts, hoodies and hats available at the Bunnyman Brewery in the Burke and on their website. https://bunnymanbrewing.com/