I’ve been able to breath again. At least a little. Before opening is now but a distant memory. I’m not going to sugar coat it but the transition from building a brewery to running a brewery wasn’t easy. If anything, building a brewery is child’s play compared to operating it day-after-day.
And initially I was an emotional wreck. The first week after opening I was like, “what was I thinking?” I was working several 16 hour days…brewing, serving, sleeping, repeat. Even if I wanted to see my shrink (which I did), I hadn’t the time. My wife and cousins -Jesse and Rebecca, were doing the same thing too. “Will this become easier?” I was honestly doubting the choices that I have made for the past year.
It is getting easier little-by-little – it was just a mental and physical adjustment. Our soft launch on Labor day weekend of not saying anything and then just being ‘open’ couldn’t have worked out better. It allowed us to get use to our POS system (thanks HCS) and also allowed us to figure out how to best work together without getting slammed with people.
Now we have a few other people starting to take over shifts (thanks Kelly and Merriam) and I have Sunday off now thanks to my cousins! It was initially tough on the kids, especially the youngest, but with grandma’s help and also talking to my kids a lot over what’s going on as I took them to school…everything is slowly starting to get back to ‘normal’ and I’m spending time with them a lot more. I mean, it’s not my overall goal to make beer and then bartend every night – but you just have to do that in the beginning to get the bills paid off quicker and to just ‘learn’ how it is and to make sure you know exactly how things should be done before getting someone in your place.
It has oddly taken nearly six months for my brewing schedule to optimize itself. I am now shifting brewing to Wednesdays and Thursdays so I have three days of solid family time beginning Sundays. My son’s and I have enjoyed some great Fall hikes after school at Seiberling NatureRealm and Top-of-the-World on my evenings off.
I have also came across an easy idea to get more out of each batch – which may be an extra 3bbls per month – allowing more production if needed and to build up reserves.
I’m keeping up with demand…so far. The first month we went through over 10 bbls. The second month was nearly the same. I feel like I’m always sweating keeping 12 taps online.
I look forward to opening to you every day. One would think that after brewing for eight hours all I would want to do is go home…not the case. It’s a totally different type of work – serving. You get instant feedback on the fruits of your labor – which is very gratifying.
I have met hundreds of you over the last two month. The one thing I feel bad about is my terrible memory at remembering names – even for the regulars. I will get better at this but it will take time. I remember as a kid that the church my parents took me too, The Chapel, there was a pastor ‘Knute Larson’ where after each service he would invite people up. Knute would talk to as many as three dozen people in less than 10 minutes for which he would then recite their names – many times full names – and brief reason why they were there that Sunday. I need a little of that memory right about now.
Just give me a little time, I will eventually remember your names…even if it means forgetting something else! Hopefully it’s not something important like a beer recipe. 😉
I do have to apologize to the a few have asked for donations, etc. to some very worthy causes. It is not my intention to not follow up but the first two months have been crazy with the long days. I’m doing all I can to ensure that the beer flows, that the beer is good and the staffing is adequate and meets expectations – that’s my only priority. As funny as it sounds, I haven’t the time to even think about gift certificates for worthy causes let alone going to the store, buying them or simply printing them and figuring the rest out. As we progress, I would love to work with local charities… but at this very moment, I am only focusing one hour ahead until this operation gets streamlined. Let me get my feet under me and I would love to work with local charities in the future…one thing at a time though.
We do have a few improvements to make to make us serve you better. We will be getting another POS system so during the busy hours when multiple people are checking out and we need to also get orders in, it’s not a long delay. And when that kitchen is online, that will be critical.
At least one thing we were smart at doing was NOT having our kitchen up and running when we opened. With as busy as we are now and learning new processes, that would have been disastrous in our first two months. Now that we have the bar side humming, we plan to have food by the year’s end or early next…hopefully. Food is nearly as important as beer. I am now moving all of my brewing-related stuff out of our kitchen and into our utility room with some very creative shelving. Yeah, we are already out of room.
Our kitchen is of a good size and we want to be able to serve our initial concepts of pulled pork and slaw sandwiches, pulled chicken, brats and sauerkraut, chili dogs, cubans, reubens and grilled cheese along with meat and cheese plates and hearty soups.
THANKS AGAIN to my wife, my Dad, Jesse and Rebecca for the first two months of help. We were burning the candles at both ends but it’s worth it and only getting easier.