Saturday, May 31, 2008

Brewpubs: a victim of their own success?

The current issue of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News (June/July 2008) quotes me in an article about the future of brewpubs within city centers.

Urban Deserts

One would think that our inner cities would be ideal locations for brewpubs, with high population density and abundant public transportation. But the opposite is true: brewpubs are becoming scarcer in urban areas. <...>

Tom Cizauskas, sales rep for Baltimore's Clipper City Brewing Co. and a veteran brewer of several craft breweries, suggests that urban brewpubs "are victims of their own success." Many of the earlier brewpubs were looked on as urban pioneers [many examples, but to name two: Sisson's of Baltimore, Maryland; Wynkoop of Denver, Colorado: Goose Island, Chicago, Illinois], revitalizing rundown sections of the city, he reflects. But as the neighborhoods gentrified, property values —and rents— rose astronomically. In the DC area, Founders' Brewpub in Alexandria, Va. was forced out by rising rents, and Dr. Dremo's (the former Bardo Rodeo brewpub) has been shuttered to make way for mixed-use development. In Chicago, the original Goose Island brewpub on Clybourne Ave., has announced it will close by the end of 2008 because of a steep rent increase.

For the situation to change, "developers have to understand that a brewpub is value-added for the community," says Cizauskas, and they have to be willing to give these business a break so that they can charge reasonable prices. "If you're asking for $8-9-10 for a hamburger, that's a disconnect," he adds.

How about $15 for a burger?


  1. I don't think developers see the difference between a brewpub and a restuarant. What is a brewpub but a restaurant that brews its own beer? I think developers need to be sold on the idea that a brewpub can be a very successful restuarant venture, and that it will draw people to an area. That being said, we all know that the restaurant business, and in particular the brewpub business can be a gamble. I don't think you will ever see developers giving any restaurant venture "a break", and you will see less brewpubs and breweries in the city. A shame, but a sad fact.

  2. It all starts with tax breaks: if they're good enough for multi-million dollar stadiums or multi-million dollar developments, why not a brewpub ... as part of that? In D.C., brewpubs were zoned into an entertainment zone, with certain monetary reductions, and which included strip clubs. Gotta love Marion Barry!


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