Month: December 2016

One Month Anniversary – What We’ve Learned

Whew! It’s been a wild first month but we’ve survived and even done pretty well! We weren’t sure what was going to happen when we initially opened. We were afraid that no one would show up or a million people would show up. Luckily it was somewhere in between. We’ve been far busier than we anticipated but that’s a good thing! We knew December would be an strange month with all of the holidays and associated activities but overall it’s been great. The first two weeks were a blur but we’ve settled down into a routine now. Looking back over the last month here are some things that we’ve learned.

  • The community is extremely happy to see us open. – I can’t count the number of people that have stopped in and said something along the lines of, “We’ve been driving by everyday or watching you on Facebook and we are so excited that you are finally open. This place has been through so many different restaurants and we hope you make it.” It’s nice to know that the community is pulling for us. We didn’t hire contractors to build this brewpub for us. We spent nearly every day for 5 months as our second job building furniture, cleaning, pressure washing, painting and repairing this building. It’s an old building that’s been neglected for a number of years and needed a lot of TLC. A lot. There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into opening this business. Literally.
  • We’ve made a ton on new friends. – It’s always great to have a friend with a boat, and the same goes for a brewery. I think I’ve met more people in the last month than in my entire life. I’ve gotten to know quite a few by first name (I apologize to the ones I’m still learning) and reconnected with some old friends. Our kids have even made friends! Mitch and Missy are regulars with their two little girls and have invited our youngest daughter to come to their house for a playdate!
  • Not just a “rich old white guy” brewery – One of the things I like most about our brewery is that we are a local, community brewery where everyone is welcome. Cathy and I were bartending one evening and as we looked out over the bar area, I commented on how awesome it was that we had people in their 20’s, young families with kids, people in their 40’s, 50’s and 70’s all sitting around talking and sharing a beer and good meal. This is the atmosphere we wanted to provide and it was really heartwarming to see it coming together.
  • People love the family-friendly atmosphere. – We’ve had so many comments and “thank you” from people that say it’s refreshing to have a local, family-friendly establishment where they can just hang out on the patio, play board games, color or just have a good meal. We are a family business and want other families to enjoy spending quality time together.
  • We love our employees – Employees are our #1 asset. We looked hard to find “happy, smiley people” and we think we’ve found some special people. Read almost any review on Facebook, Google or Yelp, and they always comment that we have nice people and great service. We work hard to make sure not only customers are having a good time, but our employees are as well. That’s really important to us. It’s only been a month so but our employees are becoming part of our family. I’ve threatened to adopt our bartender Nick a couple of times but he keeps reminding me that he already has a family.
  • People love the dog friendly patio. – I didn’t expect the patio to be such a hit with dog owners. We’ve got dog treats, water bowls and leash tie-downs on the ends of each tables and people really appreciate it. People really enjoy spending time with their friends and dogs on the patio talking, drinking beer and eating. We’ve even had Southeast Guide dogs out for a fundraising event. There will definitely be more dog friendly stuff to come.
  • Everyone loves the Mug Club. – I think we hit it out of the park with our mug club. People really like having “their own” mug created by a local potter just for them. We have 50 hanging on the wall now and another 30 are in progress. It’s been such a hit that we’ll start doing a mug club signup each month. We love having the mugs hang on the wall as art and watching people wander over and look at them.
  • We sell a lot of beer. – Our own beer isn’t on tap yet (probably the first of the year) but we still sell a lot of beer. A lot of beer. Scott does a great job of keeping a diverse selection of beer on tap and it really shows. We have a lot of people that come in because we have beer on tap you typically don’t find anywhere else and we put new handles on daily. The downside to that is that if you like a specific beer it might not be around for awhile. Our ontap page always shows what’s currently on tap.
  • It’s great working with my family. – Cathy and I have always worked together since college but it’s really great to be working with our son and his girlfriend Sara. Scott is simply crushing it on the brewery side and we are really proud of what he’s done in just a short month. He’s a hard worker and never complains about the long hours. He has some package manufacturing experience but we didn’t know how mechanically inclined he was until he built the entire brewery by himself. Amazing job! Sara does the hiring and scheduling (a super important job) and works the bar. She’s fantastic with customers!
  • Running a brewpub is hard. – You don’t see a lot of new brewpub popping up because they are hard to do. A brewery just has to focus on beer while we have to do both great beer and food. Luckily Scott handles the brewery and Cathy runs the kitchen. It’s a pretty good separation of labor and is working for us. We’ve worked in restaurants quite a lot but it’s a different beast to own one. I typically find myself mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, bussing tables, etc. because those often overlooked tasks are the most important ones that go unnoticed until they are noticed for all of the wrong reasons.
  • Our kitchen is too small. – We are struggling with our success. We are a brewery that has a small kitchen and not a restaurant. Unfortunately, to most people we look like a restaurant and expect that type of experience. Regrettably, our little kitchen gets behind on super-busy nights and it takes longer than we’d like to get food out. Trust me, we see this and are working hard to improve. We try to tell people when we are slammed to set expectation but that doesn’t always help. We’ve only been open a month so please give us some time and patience. We are a small mom and pop business not a corporate franchise that can hire consultants and process specialists to streamline operations. People tell us that being too busy is a good problem to have.
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