Less than 14 months after head brewmaster Charlie Cole brought Blue Cat Brewing Co. back from the dead in downtown Rock Island, the business is dying again.

The iconic brew pub and restaurant — which opened in 1994 at 113 18th St. — will be closing as of Jan. 1, 2023.

Charlie Cole reopened Blue Cat Brewing in November 2021 (photo by Jonathan Turner).

“I don’t know if this is temporary or permanently. All I know is we do not have the management to continue operating,” Cole wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday. “As a brewmaster who has never worked in a restaurant, I have been filling in as the restaurant manager on top of my other roles while we tried to fill that role with new employees and even attempted to bring on a new partner with the experience and passion for that side of our business. We were not successful in filling that role.”

Blue Cat’s head chef, Kevin Higgins, is moving to head the kitchen at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop in Rock Island, and Blue Cat endured a failed furnace in sub-zero temperatures, and several days of major damages from a burst water pipe over the holiday, forcing it to close, Cole wrote.

“This was an extremely hard and disappointing decision made by the owners. We will do everything we can to bring back Blue Cat (how many lives does this place have left?),” he said.

Cole with longtime Blue Cat employee Alice Jane.

“If this happens to be the long goodbye, I want to start by congratulating Chef Kevin on his new business. Please be sure to visit him at Chevin’s in Kavanaugh’s Hilltop,” Cole wrote. “We would not have been as successful as we were without his skill and leadership in our kitchen.

“I want to thank my friends Alice, Nona, Sean, Justin, Ashley, Bianca, Donavan, Melissa, Devon, Tripp, Sam, Jess, and our past employees for always giving their all to making this place so great. You will always be family to me and I’ll always have your backs.

“I also want to thank everyone from our local and national brewing community who have reached out and offered to help us in any way,” Cole wrote. “It’s a testament to how wonderful you all are and our industry as whole. I will never forget your generosity.

Blue Cat has been a downtown Rock Island institution since 1994 (the fish mural was painted in December 2021 by Atlanta Dawn).

“This has been my dream and goal since I started drinking craft beer,” he said. “I have no regrets. It’s been an absolute pleasure working with a great team to revive a legendary brand and make it our own. Even at this lowest of lows I am so proud of what we accomplished. Thanks to every patron who has supported us. You made it worth coming in every day.”

In fall 2021, four years after new owners of the former Blue Cat Brew Pub rebranded the bar and restaurant Big Swing Brewing Co., the name and some of the original beer recipes from the QC craft brewing pioneer returned with a soft re-opening Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.

Charlie Cole brought lots of brewing experience to Blue Cat (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Siblings Dan and Martha Cleaveland started Blue Cat in 1994. Dan, armed with his doctorate in chemistry, learned the art of beer brewing in Colorado. During the 1990s, Blue Cat earned an impressive 15 World Beer Championship Awards, according to the business website.

After the Cleavelands decided to retire, they passed the reins to Quad Cities natives John Timmer and Shane Scott, who later partnered with St. Louis transplant Charlie Cole. Earlier this month, Blue Cat actively searched for a new business partner to run the restaurant, so Cole could focus on brewing.

Blue Cat will be open Thursday, Dec. 29 and Friday, Dec. 30 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., with a New Year’s Eve party on Dec. 31 as the last day of operations.

“Please drink and eat local. If you love a local business please give them a positive review, make a post, tell their staff, keep other small businesses alive,” Cole posted on Facebook.