For as many splashy headlines the big craft brewers are making these days — from hugely growing their distribution footprint, to selling shares to partners, to acquiring smaller breweries of their own — the majority of the 3,000 plus craft breweries out there are focusing most of their energy at home. The brewpub or tasting room is where a reputation is made and an ethos is put forth. This is what you are about.
If what you are about isn’t much different than the sports bar down the street, your beer might be good enough to lure in regulars and grow the brand, but we wouldn’t bet on it. A focus on different, customized, meaningful experiences on location is part of the reason the brewpub segment is back on the upswing.
So, what are we talking about? Could be anything, just has to make sense for that brewery. For example, the Florida craft brewing rockstars at Funky Buddha just announced plans to build the Craft Food Counter & Kitchen inside their Oakland Park taproom. This next step in Funky Buddha Brewery’s evolution will be a locally-driven kitchen, combining gourmet-caliber plates with a fast-casual “counter” method of service that will fit right in to the taproom’s communal atmosphere.
“Funky Buddha has always been known for its culinary approach to beer, and now we’ll finally have a kitchen to match,” said KC Sentz, co-owner of Funky Buddha Brewery. “The ability to incorporate quality food and beer together will just complete the tap room experience for our customers.”
Funky Buddha knows what it is about and is building that experience into their physical location, through design and staffing. Craft Food Counter & Kitchen will be helmed by Jeff Vincent, a South Carolina native and veteran head chef who most recently brought acclaim to the fantastic Beauty & the Feast inside the Atlantic Hotel on Fort Lauderdale beach. Vincent joined the Funky Buddha family in early April to produce the menu and oversee build-out plans. Vincent’s menu will combine farm-to-table ethos with upscale street food. Everything will be made in house, utilizing local ingredients as well as the beers themselves.
The addition of Craft Food Counter & Kitchen will also allow the brewery to conduct beer dinners on site, pairing its brews with custom dishes turned out by Vincent. A full-service private room that seats 125 is being built concurrently and will host corporate events, receptions and private functions with a full catering menu to match.
Focusing your brewpub or tasting room on who you are doesn’t have to involve sledgehammers and new hires. Maybe just rethink your hours and your usefulness to your customers, like Braxton Brewing Co. just did with its “Taproom of the Future.” Braxton is going to provide a “co-working” environment each morning at its Covington, Ky., location and encourage local startup entrepreneurs and remote workers to use its space to get work done and network.
“We started Braxton in our garage like many amazing companies, and from the beginning we built our taproom to mimic the new garage,” said Jake Rouse, co-founder and CEO. “It’s a place that can serve a dual purpose, and we’re beyond excited to see what happens next.”