While I have been going over tons of details with starting a brewpub there has been one area where I am finding it difficult to get a clear idea now. The general idea of a brewpub is pretty easy, but narrowing down the focus is where I can’t decide on what I want to do. I’ve been to dozens of brewpubs and good beer bars and they all have something different to offer. There are brewpubs that focus on first rate food and come with first rate pricing but there are also those who want to be the neighborhood hangout.
Being from the Philadelphia area, I was exposed to great examples of both of these. I have previously mentioned Iron Hill Brewery. They are now a chain, and a super successful one that that, but they focus more on the upscale side of things. The food is expensive, the beer is expensive, and the decorum match it. They even have napkins with their logo on it, and they are those really nice napkins that you only need one of when you have ribs. The really focus on first class service and their waiters know their stuff. I have only eaten there a handful of times but the food is excellent. I have been to the bar part more than a handful of times and they also have a great variety of beers to drink.
Another brewpub that I am familiar with is Rock Bottom Brewery in King of Prussia, PA. It is also another chain, but totally different from Iron Hill Brewery. It has more of a “everyday” restaurant feel. By that I mean that the dining experience is more on the level with an Applebee’s or a Chilli’s and the prices are also competitive. They have also proven to be successful as there are multiple locations across the country. They have a nice selection of food and, from my experience, a nice, but more limited selection of beer as well.
The final brewpub that I want to talk about is Bube’s Brewery (pronounced Boobies, yup) in Mt. Joy, PA. It is by far the smallest restaurant out of the three, but it makes up for it by being a brewery, a restaurant, a dinner show theater, and a hotel all in one. Sounds neat doesn’t it? They also have a nice, but more limited selection of food, and they also offer a great selection of four homebrewed drafts along with another eight or so craft drafts. Unlike the other two brewpubs and most brewpubs that that matter, they do not ever have the same thing on draft. Every time you go in they have a different beer. But that is a discussion for a later time. The mood in Bube’s is extremely relaxed. The bartenders are knowledgeable and the waiters are usually helpful as well. There are no TV’s in the bar and you have the opportunity to enjoy your company.
So I guess the question still comes down to, what do I want people to experience when they visit my brewpub? I want there to be a great selection of food and beer, but also not at prices that would keep some people away. I want it to be more of a neighborhood hangout where the locals can come on a Tuesday just as easily as they would come on a Friday night. The staff should we warm and knowledgeable about beer and be able to answer most any question. I want the decor to be warm as well. I think every restaurant wants to be a place where people can spend a lot of time, and therefore money. But I really want this to be a place that you can sit down, have a beer and read a book with no one bothering you in the process.
I don’t know how clear of direction that is, but it is starting to piece together. I obviously need to do a lot more work on getting the finer details worked out, but the my focus is getting narrowed down and that can only mean progress. Let me know what types of places you enjoy or what a brewpub mean to you so that I can get a cleaner idea of what I am going after.