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Author Topic: Potential brewpub location  (Read 3887 times)

Offline phillamb168

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Potential brewpub location
« on: June 21, 2011, 11:31:29 AM »
There's that old brewpub bug again... I've got the cash, and at the very least could rent it as an office for my company while I got things together. The town has about 10,000 people, the canton (county, ~23 sq mi) has about 40k, the arrondisment (177 sq mi) has more than half a million people, and there are only a few nice restaurants and zero brewpubs.

http://www.leboncoin.fr/bureaux_commerces/210068817.htm?ca=12_s

I love the windows, very english pub.

If any of you have experience running or opening a brewpub, I would really, really be interested in hearing your comments.
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 11:35:39 AM by phillamb168 »
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2011, 01:01:09 PM »
Neat looking, but my question would be what do you need to be successful in France? Would it take architecture or the beer/food?

My biggest concern would be how to get your equipment inside...
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ccarlson

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2011, 01:20:22 PM »
MDixon brings up some good points, but what about when you get it inside?

My first thoughts are available energy to run the brewery. Is it wired for the required power? Is the available power at least run to the building? If not is it in the neighborhood? Same questions apply to gas.

Of course an even bigger question is the available market. Would the locals frequent a brewpub?

Good luck. Sounds like a lot of fun and hard work. Just do your homework, because opinions around here are like, well you know,  and none of us really have all of the specific answers you need.

Offline phillamb168

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2011, 01:34:24 PM »
Re electricity, should be ok. The space used to be a restaurant/brewery and has a full kitchen, so I know natural gas is an option. We're not looking to do this right now, of course, so this thread is more of a ping to you guys with experience and ideas. With the retail real estate market the way it is right now, I figure this will be on the market for a while, and if it's not, no big deal, there's always somewhere.

Our plan for the next 6 months or so is to do the following:
Go to a few markets on saturday with a BBQ and a keg and give out free samples of food and beer, with the stipulation that people fill out a quick survey (how much do you like the beer, how often do you go out for dinner, what price would you consider reasonable for a pint, etc).
Following that, I'm gonna buy some of those sankey kegs from sabco that you can open up (tri-clamp fittings) and approach the bars near me, offering to give them the first keg free (they don't do very high volumes, these are probably 15-30 covers per day) as a market trial. One of the pubs is known for being a 'bar a bieres' and has a concert season just about to kick into gear.
Following that, well, we'll see. At the very, very least I can start something small and provide a keg or two to the local pub.

All of this is done very conservatively, of course. The sabco kegs are a pricey way to do market research but if all else fails they'll be good fermenters.
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Offline MDixon

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2011, 01:45:34 PM »
Maybe it's just me, but free ain't the kind of research I would do right now. I'd go ask why the other business failed. Find the owner of it and simply ask or ask the businesses in the area.

In most of the US you must have either great food or great beer. If you don't have either, even a great location won't sustain your business forever. The best brewpubs, IMO, have good food and excellent beer. However in France I can imagine you must have excellent food to sustain since the country is known for it's food. Food adds a layer of complexity to the mix that most of us probably aren't skilled enough to handle on our own.

Whatever you do, get equipment which is larger than you think you will need. No one ever said they have too much capacity.
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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2011, 02:21:26 PM »
Phil, I actually love the look of the building and wouldn't change a thing on that front. My concern would be space. 180 m2 is already borderline too small for a brewpub, and I'm assuming the upper story wouldn't accommodate heavy equipment and that there's no elevator to easily move supplies up and down. (Take it from someone who has to haul sacks of malt down a flight of stairs - you don't want to do it.) So you'd be left with trying to shoehorn a brewhouse, kitchen, and the front of the restaurant into 120 m2. I just don't see you being able to get enough seatings to turn a profit.

Whatever you do, get equipment which is larger than you think you will need. No one ever said they have too much capacity.

That depends on the capitalization structure and planned expansion. Quite a few breweries have failed because they started out with a 50 or 100 bbl system and didn't have enough demand to be able to amortize the startup costs.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2011, 02:48:58 PM »
Maybe it's just me, but free ain't the kind of research I would do right now. I'd go ask why the other business failed. Find the owner of it and simply ask or ask the businesses in the area.

In most of the US you must have either great food or great beer. If you don't have either, even a great location won't sustain your business forever. The best brewpubs, IMO, have good food and excellent beer. However in France I can imagine you must have excellent food to sustain since the country is known for it's food. Food adds a layer of complexity to the mix that most of us probably aren't skilled enough to handle on our own.

Whatever you do, get equipment which is larger than you think you will need. No one ever said they have too much capacity.

As I said we're not set at all on a location, I posted the photo as more of a conversation booster which seems to have worked :-)

France is known for food for sure, but most restaurants are pretty meh around here. Paris of course has its share of excellent restaurants, and of course they all have impeccable wine caves, but you never see excellent food with excellent beer. What I don't see anywhere (at least not executed correctly) is a good brewpub. That includes Paris - there are a couple of the Frog pub chain but the food is horrible and the beer is not very interesting. In Lyon, where Ninkasi has opened five brewpubs, they're doing killer business, but it hasn't made it this far up the A6 yet.

The challenge (and the reason for doing the free research {the cost of brewing a few kegs of beer is negligible at the moment}) is to convince the French people to accept beer as an acceptable substitute for wine. That's the real crux of whether or not the business succeeds or fails, in my opinion...
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2011, 02:52:05 PM »
Phil, I actually love the look of the building and wouldn't change a thing on that front. My concern would be space. 180 m2 is already borderline too small for a brewpub, and I'm assuming the upper story wouldn't accommodate heavy equipment and that there's no elevator to easily move supplies up and down. (Take it from someone who has to haul sacks of malt down a flight of stairs - you don't want to do it.) So you'd be left with trying to shoehorn a brewhouse, kitchen, and the front of the restaurant into 120 m2. I just don't see you being able to get enough seatings to turn a profit.

Whatever you do, get equipment which is larger than you think you will need. No one ever said they have too much capacity.

That depends on the capitalization structure and planned expansion. Quite a few breweries have failed because they started out with a 50 or 100 bbl system and didn't have enough demand to be able to amortize the startup costs.

Yeah, exactly - I actually didn't see the 180m2 until now.

In terms of the size of the brewery, I was going to buy a Sabco Brew-Magic. Yes it's turnkey, and yes I could probably make something for a lot cheaper, but I'm not an electrician and parts are much, much, much harder to find here than they are in the US. I've yet to find anything in France or Europe equivalent to, say, McMasterCarr, and if they do exist, they have nothing like the online ordering system. 15 gallons per session does seem like a lot, but the upside to that is that I'd buy the system outright and not have any payments at all. If things were to succeed, that's when I'd invest in something a bit pricier.
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2011, 03:00:35 PM »
It does seem small. I would also worry about the possibility that nikasi will continue to expand and if they hit your market while you are still vulnerable you wouldn't be able to compete against their economy of scale. Course in france I guess all bets are off if you can brand your self as the 'local' option. Maybe think organic as well. That's big in France right now, just watched a doc about that called 'Food Beware' that's worth a watch.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2011, 03:10:13 PM »
It does seem small. I would also worry about the possibility that nikasi will continue to expand and if they hit your market while you are still vulnerable you wouldn't be able to compete against their economy of scale. Course in france I guess all bets are off if you can brand your self as the 'local' option. Maybe think organic as well. That's big in France right now, just watched a doc about that called 'Food Beware' that's worth a watch.

I have talked with the head brewer at Ninkasi, who has told me that they're focusing on their own region right now. He said he'd love to be able to go to Paris, but they want to keep things hands-on, and if they go out that far (3.5 -4 hour drive) it makes it hard to have the same level of control.

Organic is another option, but I think focusing more on terroir (the whole 'local' thing) is what's going to appeal to my target audience. The level to which terroir is important to people with discretionary income is very, very high here.

Also to note, perhaps: there are basically no sanitation laws when it comes to breweries in France - they're under the same laws as wine, and you can imagine the sort of pitchfork-wielding uproar that would come if the government told people they had to clean up their 500-year-old barn that they ferment their wine in. So brewing at a different location (my basement at home) is an option when looking at space requirements.
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ccarlson

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2011, 03:12:55 PM »
15 gallons per session seems awful small to support a brewpub. I think you'd be spending all of your time brewing and there's a lot more to be done in a restaurant environment than just brewing.

Offline denny

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2011, 03:13:33 PM »
15 gallons per session seems awful small to support a brewpub. I think you'd be spending all of your time brewing and there's a lot more to be done in a restaurant environment than just brewing.

Yeah, that was my first thought, too.
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Offline phillamb168

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2011, 03:16:01 PM »
15 gallons per session seems awful small to support a brewpub. I think you'd be spending all of your time brewing and there's a lot more to be done in a restaurant environment than just brewing.

I agree, but at least with 15 gallons I have something I can re-use if things don't work out. That's also the reason for renting a place as opposed to purchasing outright.

Another important aspect about this location is that it is NOT contracted to a brewery. In France and other parts of Europe, breweries will basically open a bar for you, but you have to agree to only, only serve their beers. They do this not only with a contract between the two of you, but also by buying the space and making payoff very difficult. If you do decide to pay it off and change the beers, they'll spend the money to buy the place next door and charge half of whatever you're charging for beer. So, not having a contract is a very big plus.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this won't necessarily be "All Phil All the Time" - I'd like to carry kegs from other local breweries as well, which would ideally significantly reduce the brewing time needed.
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Offline tumarkin

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #13 on: June 21, 2011, 03:53:44 PM »
if you get really serious about this, I'd suggest joining the BA (pro side of our AHA organization). there is a lot of info, and their forum is all folks on the brewpub & packaging micro side of things. it'd be worth the small cost.
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ccarlson

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Re: Potential brewpub location
« Reply #14 on: June 21, 2011, 04:21:14 PM »
Since you are only looking at brewing 15 gallons and plan to offer other beer, it sounds to me like you should concentrate on a restaurant that serves beer. The brewing aspect can be something that might happen in the future, given enough space. Although, you already have that worked out since you can legally brew at home. Brewing, right off the bat, will only complicate the business.