Brian Kelly opened Elevation 66 Brewing Company 3 years ago in El Cerrito, California. It was his first business and they paid off their major investor ahead of schedule, just 2 and-a-half years after opening.
Initially, they wanted to have a mill and limit the food offerings to paninis and salads. About halfway into the design process they decided to rework it and plan for a full kitchen. It was more expensive to build, but it was worth it.
“That has turned out to be one of the better ideas for this place,” says Brian. “Our food has really taken off. Without our kitchen, I don’t know if this place would be nearly as successful. Salads and paninis is nothing like the food we put out right now.”
And the food at Elevation 66 is great. They were recognized as having the best artisanal pub food in the East Bay.
Brian’s advice to someone just starting is:
- Understanding the laws is crucial
- Be as professional as possible at all times
- Hire help
Elevation 66 is still new, but their 7-BBL system can hardly produce enough beer just for their in-house sales. (Elevation 66 doesn’t package any beer for distribution.) They are starting to plan for expansion and have begun developing the brewery business plans for different possibilities.
So I asked Brian how to write a brewery business plan. He said start looking into the red tape.
“These permits that you have to get and all this red tape that you have to go through can be a long and arduous process. You really want to have a solid plan of attack on how you’re going to do all these things.”
Brian’s top 3 resources for writing a brewery business plan:
- Read Dick cantwell’s book: The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery
- Go to business school or take a class on business
- Read other business plans
“Honestly,” says Brian, “I just went online and read other people’s business plans.
He also suggests overestimating costs and underestimating revenues.
“That’s the whole purpose of a business plan to me. It’s like, let’s be realistic. What’s the worst case scenario? If that does happen, can we still make this work? If you can, and you do better than that, then it’s golden.”
“If you have a feeling that this is going to succeed, don’t doubt that.” [Tweet This]
From Hayden Little: How much trouble did you have coming up with a name? What was the inspiration for the name?
- The Brewers Association’s Guide to Starting Your Own Brewery by Dick Cantwell.
- The Oxford Companion to Beer by Garrett Oliver (Editor).
Check out the entire list of recommended books, click here.
An upcoming beer style:
- S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).
- Directory of State Alcohol Beverage Control Boards.
- Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.
- REV (formerly True Market Solutions).
- Board of Equalization in your state.
- Labor Board in your state.
- Gose, German Beer Institute, The German Beer Portal for North America.
You can reach Brian Kelly and Elevation 66 Brewing Company at:
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