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Old 03-25-2013, 06:10 PM   #1
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Default The plan...

So, I have the early phases of a nano plan. I have a few wrinkles that make it particularly attractive and terrifying at the same time.

There is an amazingly beautiful space in my town where I can have a very popular brew pub. There is an attached 'garage area' where I can place the brewery away from the pub. The negative is that the space costs require that I sell about 75-80 pints a day at minimum to break even. There is an existing micro in town that does very well and they tend to get anywhere from 70 to 150 people a day into the brewery. I feel (and have been told) that my products are superior to those provided at the brewery, although I don't make 50 or 100 gallon batches so the scaling may cause a factor in my finished product.

The current plan is to utilize the restaurant space's restaurant and beer/wine license and essentially distribute more or less exclusively to the 'restaurant'. The restaurant/pub will serve very simple food. Pizza, perhaps a burger and some desserts along with coffee/tea/soda.

There will need to be two different businesses. The Brewery will occupy the 'garage area' while the restaurant/pub is in the nicer section of the building. Because of the restaurant/pub setup I get around the shortened hours and serving limits of the brewery. I can serve from 11:00 to 11:00 and as long as food is ordered at some point I am not limited to serving 3 pints. (Basically, customers can get three pints from the "brewery" and if they want more, they have to order a pizza or a burger.)

I have an immediate advantage over the local micro and the distillery who can only serve until 8:00. I can pull their overflow until 11:00. Because I can stay open later I can also get crowds who exit the theater across the street. (stage, not movie). Furthermore, the restaurant/pub can stay open later than 11:00 to serve dessert, coffee/tea etc. I can't serve beer after 11:00 but other stuff is fine.

Basically, the restaurant is a very simplistic front for the brewery. It allows me to avoid some state legislation that is threatening to further minimize the amount of beer served in the taproom, allows me to stay open later and serve more beer per customer if I wish. Additionally it will probably make a small profit and can help pay for the space.

I have a partner who can take on the 'restaurant' side. I can handle the brewery component. If everything works out alright I can split the costs of the space as well as the servers with the restaurant side and based on how we incorporate the entire enterprise we can share expenses and (Please God) profits.

The negatives are, the restaurant/pub side means MORE hours of operation and potentially more problems with customers coming from other places and who may have already had a few drinks. (In short I start moving more toward the headaches a bar has.) Of course there's also 2 businesses to merge and make cooperate. (Although, in honesty - the restaurant is really just a front for the distribution side of the brewery. It merely gives me an exclusive place to serve beer and allows me to serve some simple food.)

Anyway, that's kind of what I'm starting to research and plan on. Ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions?

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Come See Us At: Butte-Toberfest, Butte Montana - September 20

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Old 03-25-2013, 07:48 PM   #2
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Congrats on the plan, I hope it all goes well. One potential issue I see is that you are going into this with beer/brewing as your primary focus and while that is important, your state/local laws are forcing you make that your secondary purpose if you want to stay open the longer hours. So, don't just think of the other established brewery in town as your only competition but also every restaurant in the area too.

You need a reason for people to want to go to your restaurant/brew house. Your primary focus is going to have to be food because your local laws require you to sell food in order for people to buy beer at later hours and also buy multiple beers. If you have multiple restaurants in the area, you are going to need to do more than have some pizzas and burgers and focus on the beer. Your overhead of operating a restaurant is going to be significant. You need a chef, wait staff, dish washers, bussers, maybe a manager. Not to mention all the food, storage, and your beer ingredients.

I like where you are going with this, its a dream of mine to have a brewpub some day. But just be careful in what you are considering doing. I do not think you should think of food as a loophole around a rather stupid law, because its not going to be enough. If you are going to make the investment for being restaurant and brew beer, then go all the way and become a brewpub and make food as much of a focus as your beer. Try and figure out something a little different than your standard burger or pizza offerings too. Have good appetizers that people would want to drink with beer--chicken wings, cheese sticks, specialty/homemade chips, cheese fries...all the things that make people want to drink more beer, but also make it so people choose your establishment over other restaurants. Otherwise you are going to have to sell a lot of beer, I mean a lot, to operate and be successful. You need a salary, your employees need to be paid, prices of goods always fluctuate. Your business will hopefully need to expand and grow, and building that all off hopefully selling 70+ pints a day is putting a lot of faith in just your beer, which may be valid, but if you are going to have a restaurant attached to your name and your beer, your food needs to be just as good and memorable as your beer.

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Old 03-25-2013, 08:24 PM   #3
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When you say 80 pints to breakeven per day, what cost are you including, that only $400 of revenue a day ($5 per pint?). Is that just covering the 'brewery' expenses?

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Old 03-25-2013, 08:51 PM   #4
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I like the pizza idea. I've eaten at some good pizza shops that have decent bottle selections. It makes the environment even better when you can enjoy a good beer with your pizza, or vice verse. The problem is that they never have good beers on tap, aside from the usual mega-crafts like blue moon, shock top, etc. Also I would recommend having some good craft beer that isn't yours on tap. That way if you have a kink in your brewing pipeline, or people don't like the beer you make, you don't lose business. Also consider where you are setting up your brewpub/pizza joint and make your beers tie in with something local. One thing I love about small breweries is when they associate themselves with the local culture, figures, history, or legends.

One bit of advice I can give you above all, is proper glassware. Nothing irks me more than having a waitress bring me a bottle and not offer a glass, or offer me the standard "I just bought an apartment and have no dishes" glass. I was stoked when I visited DFH's pub in Delaware and they sent out everything in quality glassware.

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Old 03-25-2013, 10:47 PM   #5
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Fennis, your points are all well-taken. Ideally the restaurant side is initially intended to merely be a 'front' for the brewery distribution arm. We aren't planning (in the short run) on really attempting to compete aggressively as a traditional 'restaurant'. Since the brewery basically uses the 'bar' in the restaurant as its tap room, I can serve 3 pints to customers without their having to order food. Should they want another beer, they have to order something off the menu. Fennis, my wife tends to agree with you. She feels the restaurant angle has potential because of the limited number of restaurants in that section of town and the complete lack of someplace to go after hours for a quite dessert and coffee offering. My fear is exactly what you pointed out, the overhead in putting together a more complete restaurant offering make the venture significantly riskier. This is a beer-loving town and I don't think I'll have a problem getting say, 50-75 people a day to come in but I don't know if I can handle all the overhead of a full restaurant staffing.

And Teromous, yes. The restaurant can get kegs from other in-state micros to have on hand. That will help if there's a hiccup in my pipeline. Of course my margin is much much smaller on that beer.

Ideally we can have pre-made pizzas ready that can be thrown in the oven, baked and delivered to tables without having a dedicated cook. (Think Papa Murphy style take n' bake). We can also have onion rings, breaded mushrooms, mozzarella sticks etc.that merely need to be put in the fryer for a few minutes. If we end up doing more on the restaurant side, then yes we'll need to hire somebody to handle cooking, serving and cleaning ends of that service. The hope is that the 2 to 3 servers in the tap area can handle the food orders without having to additionally staff. I suppose if there is that much demand for the food side then it's a good problem to have because we presumably would have enough business on the food side to justify and afford dedicated staff.

Beergazzi, yes, when I say "break even" it means the business is not losing money on the supplies, utilities, rent, insurance, paid employees and taxes etc. Break Even also unfortunately means, I don't receive any salary or compensation for my time brewing, transferring, bottling, cleaning and generally being a slave to the man... who ironically is me... My current calculated gross weekly loss is about $2500.00. I can just break even at around 80 pints per day, 100 is obviously better.

These figures don't take any profit from the restaurant side into account. Should the restaurant do much more than break even then it gives us some room to decide how best to maximize our service to customers.

What I should make clear is that I'm in the very early business plan stages of this process. I'm still trying to determine if the 'minimal restaurant' concept has legs at all. I like the idea but I understand that restaurant management is a huge headache that I really don't want anything to do with (hence the other partner who has experience with business and restaurant management.)

The culture of the town I live in is such that a new brewery would be supported. As I said the other brewery does about 3 times the business I'd need to in order to get even without advertising and that is only accounting for their taproom. They also distribute locally and probably self distribute 10-20 kegs a week to local vendors.

I appreciate the "have you considered this" posts. Like I said. I'm trying to determine if the prospect has legs. Any input is appreciated, especially from those who have been to the wars so to speak. I know the general vibe is that nano's can't succeed unless you brew on 7 barrel systems and have a huge distribution pipeline. I'm not looking to cure cancer or become a millionaire. I'd just like to work into a situation within a couple years where I can do what I like best and make a reasonable living at it.

I do understand there are tons and tons of invisible hurdles all around.

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Come See Us At: The Original Festival, Butte Montana - September 12-13

Come See Us At: Butte-Toberfest, Butte Montana - September 20

Come See Us At: Montana Brewers Association Fall Festival, Missoula Montana - October 11

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Old 03-25-2013, 11:59 PM   #6
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I'd be worried about serving pre-made anything. You will be known as that place with great beer but terrible food, so people will never order the food, thus negating your >3 pints plan. I'm not sure that a lot of people would drink > 3 pints anyway, but maybe so if there is enough going on otherwise. I personally would not go to a brewpub just to sit around and drink even if the beer is amazing; I'd expect some sort of entertainment, like sports TV (I don't even really like most sports) or maybe a DJ. That will raise your costs. Sounds to me though that you're not necessarily counting on 3+ pints per person, so maybe that is an unnecessary worry.

Still, I feel like you should consider offering decent food. Perhaps tapas or something. Easy to make, cheap to make, and cheap to buy if people want to spend their money on beer rather than the required food. Most of those can be made days beforehand. People can either fill up on tapas and have their 3+ pints, or have 1 tapas and have their 3+ pints. Not sure what exists in your area so I can't suggest how to fill in the gaps...

Does the law suggest a minimum amount of food consumed? How does that work exactly? If not... a bag of popcorn for $.25 at the door?

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Old 03-26-2013, 04:42 PM   #7
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I'm not really trying so much to go for 4+ pints per customer. Frankly that introduces problems I don't want to deal with. What I am interested in is the extended hours which gives me a shot at overflow customers. (Which I suppose introduces folks who have already had a few at the other brewery or at the distillery, but that's an issue I'm likely going to deal with regardless.)

The current microbrewery in town serves popcorn only. They truly are simply a taproom. I suppose from all the suggestions I really do need to consider being a bit more aggressive on the food side. The restaurant partner is actually interested in offering more things, I'm the one who's been trying to limit that due to the overhead.

I also understand that it takes something special to get folks to come out an have a beer or two. I have live music options and we'll have televisions for sporting events etc. The primary customer base is professionals leaving work for a beer or two in the evening with colleagues or friends. The business isn't intended to draw in college students or typical 'bar crowds'. But... that of course makes me think about the above point that quick'n easy food may not appeal to that customer base much.

Damnit people... there you go making me think!

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Come See Us At: The Original Festival, Butte Montana - September 12-13

Come See Us At: Butte-Toberfest, Butte Montana - September 20

Come See Us At: Montana Brewers Association Fall Festival, Missoula Montana - October 11

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Old 03-26-2013, 04:53 PM   #8
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Just something to inspire you...

My favorite place to drink in my town is a pub across the street from our big theatre. They seem to get a crazy amount of business on show nights. I usually avoid the place on show nights until after 8 when the shows start - there's just no room to sit. They get some business after the shows let out, but most people want to eat some dinner first, then go to the theatre, then go home.

I go there primarily because of the beer selection they have on tap, but the food is pretty good there as well.

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Old 03-26-2013, 05:42 PM   #9
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Thank you Lando. Appreciate it.

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Come See Us At: Butte-Toberfest, Butte Montana - September 20

Come See Us At: Montana Brewers Association Fall Festival, Missoula Montana - October 11

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Old 03-26-2013, 05:57 PM   #10
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Locally we have several German style butcher groups that sell ready to eat meals including things like pork belly on bread, pies and so on. Most of them also supply wholesale and would most likely be happy to assist with "know how" for a simple "pub food" restaurant.

One example http://www.holsteinmeats.co.za/

Their food is really first rate and well priced, their beers just suck when compared to good craft beer.

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