I’ve been thinking about this blog and when we started we were focused on the business plan and financing and brewing great tasting beer. We’re at a totally different stage today which has caused me to reflect on the process as a whole for starting a craft brewery. No doubt, in a year, my thoughts will be extremely different again…
For those of you out there thinking about starting a craft brewery, now that we’re almost two years in planning, you need to think of the big picture and move beyond the business plan and financing but never go beyond brewing great tasting beer! The business plan was a huge tool for us and we’ll keep using it… and as far as financing goes, if you have a dream and you do your homework, the financing will fall into place. It did for us.. I hope this doesn’t sound shallow because we really worked our asses off to get where we are so perhaps it wasn’t all that easy. What really happened was people realized a few things, we’re hugely dedicated, we’re taking a big risk and Mark is a great brewer with a vision of perfection.
Here are some additional hurdles for you to consider when planning your brewery…
Finding the right location… local zoning ordinances can be a challenge. We were fortunate that Mark did an extensive amount of homework before we found our pristine location. In New Orleans there are certain areas of the City that actually exclude breweries from existing and in other areas, depending on the zoning, a conditional use permit may be required. If you need a conditional use permit, you have to have a public hearing with the City Council. The current zoning ordinances for the City of New Orleans can be found here: http://www.nola.gov/city-planning/current-comprehensive-zoning-ordinance/.
So, you’ve done your homework on zoning ordinances and now you’re on the hunt for the perfect building. Are you going to rent or buy? For us, we opted to rent based on not wanting to tie up cash in the purchase of a property. Bank financed commercial property requires a 20% down payment. We did find a 5,000 square foot warehouse that we considered but making a substantial down payment with negative cash flow was not for us.
Gross lease of triple net lease – you should do your homework and determine what you can afford. With the triple net lease, you are on the hook for all of the maintenance, insurance and property taxes for the building. A commercial realtor will also have a hefty fees associated with your service and then of course, you’ll need your legal team to review any lease agreement before you sign on the dotted line.
Ok, so like us, you’ve found the perfect spot… what’s next. Well, what’s next is bringing the building up to snuff for opening a craft brewery. That is no simple task… will the concrete support the weight of the tanks, does the building a have a sprinkler system (required), does your space have enough parking spots? Are you planning on a tap room? I certainly hope so and if that is the case, is the property ADA compliant? Where are you going to place your boiler and CO2 tank?? Do you need an RO water filter and what about storage for all of your cooperage? How are trucks going to make deliveries and pick up your product? The list goes on and on… for us, we’ve decided to use an engineering firm to help us with these requirements. In addition, the folks who we bought our brewhouse from have also made some recommendations based on the footprint of our building. All the while, all of these folks answering your questions providing you with an invaluable service are expensive. You need to ensure you have enough cash and have budgeted enough to help you get your building up to code requirements. Oh, and in the meantime, don’t forget you have to continue to work on your beer recipes!
That said, we’re hoping to get our ducks in a row in the next month or two with production prior to December 31st! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
Cheers to that y’all,
PS - Steve Edwards, come for a visit!