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    6 Replies Latest reply on Nov 11, 2010 4:16 PM by cport31

    Want to start a brew pub - advice needed

    birdiegt Newbie
      My husband and I are seriously considering opening a brew pub outside of Washington DC in a larger suburb town. Some background: I am almost finished with my Bachelor's in Business Management while my husband has a high school education. I have experience working for a small business for over 10 years in martial arts and I am currently working full time making a fair income. My husband has experience brewing for over 10 years. We have had various restaurants in the area tell us they would absolutely stock our beer if we ever opened up a place and of course our friends love our beer. We have 73+ fans on our brew page on Facebook in only a few weeks.

      Currently, there are around 80,000 people in our town, no breweries and
      plenty of sucessful restaurants. We also have the added advantage of
      the daily commuters from the VRE being located within walking distance
      of the downtown area.

      I also took this idea into my entrepreneur class and created a 27 page business plan and presented it. We won first place with the best business plan and idea. (we of course supplied a few beer samples to the teachers and judges). There is apparently a lot of potential in establishing a brew pub our town and the location would be excellent. In fact, one of the account managers of old town said they have been looking for someone to start this type of restaurant and that it would help businesses.

      I also have some folks who would be interested in investing with us as well which would be a plus.

      I have been trying to get my husband into an apprenticeship or working with a local brewer but there are very few breweries/brew pubs in Northern VA and have not had any luck with any of the owners as of yet. My concern is that both of us have no experience in the industry and no formal brewing education.

      I also won't be able to dedicate myself full time to the brewery and plan to stay in my current job. Would it be feasible for us to hire someone we know to manage the day to day operations and customers to assist my husband? Can we get finances without formal education easily? What are the risks invloved when we don't have experience running a restaurant.
        • Re: Want to start a brew pub - advice needed


          I recently sold my fine dining restaurant and have some thoughts and questions for you.


          Location is key. If you aren't in an easy to find, accessible location with plenty of parking, you're going to have problems.


          Who are the neighbors to your location? Having good neighbors is a plus. You don't want to open a pub next to a place that resents your customer base.


          The restaurant business is tough - as I'm sure you've probably heard. Not all owners are operators, but it definitely helps. You need to be prepared to put in the time. You can hire people to manage your business, but if you are having trouble finding a good manager, who will step in? It usually means you have to, and you will want to instead of hiring someone that isn't doing a good job. Plus, working your business in the beginning usually gives you better insight faster into the changes that you need to make to get your business off the ground versus taking the opinion of another person unless they have more experience in the business than you.


          When you say "successful" restaurants in the area, define successful and according to whom. The restaurant industry has been hard hit, some areas and tiers more than others. If you have branded chains or recognized chefs that have high end restaurants that are doing well, it doesn't necessarily mean that pubs will have the same success. The NRA (restaurants not rifles) has some good info. Their site is


          Do you prefer to create branded brews to sell to other establishments or create a brew pub?


          You may have covered a good portion of this in your plan and you very well may have a successful formula. I am simply challenging your ideas with my questions. Please don't take them as criticism. If you would like, I can take a look at your plan and give you feedback.


          All the Best,


          Doug Dolan


          The Solopreneur's Guide


            • Re: Want to start a brew pub - advice needed
              birdiegt Newbie
              Good point. "Successful" in this case means restaurants in Old Town Manassas have not failed in the last few years.

              You can see in my plan most of the details about the area. Parking won't be an issue. A new parking garage was constructed right down the street a few blocks. Also, 2 new breweries have opened/will be opening up in addition to the ones in my plan - one in Fredricksburg and one in Vienna. Manassas will soon be next if we don't get there before someone else does...
            • Re: Want to start a brew pub - advice needed
              LkMiBrewer Newbie

              I am also in the planning phase of starting a micro-brewery, but in Michigan. I have studied many facts in my state in the industry and have found that micro's are growing steadily and are very stable. Having said that, brew pubs are a little less solid in my state. Check yours for sure. The internet is a wonderful thing. Brewers Association is great place to start.

              I would be happy to share with you my plans and ideas and would appreciate the same in return. Please give me shout as I think we could help each other out.

              Good luck and happy brewing.

              Ken Braley