Our last post was May 17th, the day we found out our two neighbors seagulled us by filing petitions with PLCB to keep us from opening our door for tap sales. If we thought life was a whirlwind before, well, it hasn't slowed down one bit ...
We've tried to quickly regroup, get our feet back under us and make lemonade, also known as the swill you peddle when your neighbors block the brew pub from selling its brew. The Sunday following the petition bombshell, we opened for brunch and growler sales. Empty growler sales. All 72 growlers were sold within days, but we really only make about $1/each on growler sales. We sold plenty of brunches and our profit was good, but not what it would be with the tap sales. Not even close. We opened Fourth Friday to sell the remainder of the growlers, which went. We did some pretty strong food sales, too. (People like chicken pies). We opened during the parade and saw a couple hand fulls of people. We opened Memorial Day to actually fill those growlers for the first time, and serve brunch. Brunch sales were beyond light. Growler fills were plentiful. But Zucks can't live on growler sales alone ...
The financial ramifications of those two petitions are deep. The beer that was to be sold on tap for $6/pint, is now at $4/pint to carry out in a growler. The food sales, well, not many people will linger and eat when they can't drink. The chef we wanted to hire, he won't be hired for months. The daughter home to earn her food money for the entire upcoming year of college, that money no longer exists. Wait staff, they won't be hired. Amos has become a part time growler filler. Sarah has become a cook, waitress, bus boy and dishwasher. And then there are the fees to the lawyers. That's all up front in order to get back some of the financial losses while we sit and wait. (That ones worth it in our minds ....)
Over the past two weeks, our business plan has turned more into a "survival strategy." The PLCB has been clear that these two petitions will cost us four months of time, sitting and waiting to get our tap license while we entertain parking speculations from the neighbors. We have bills. Lots of them. If you think YOU have bills, add on the cost of opening a business to all the normal stuff. The licensing process demands us to put all the money out up front, as if we were ready to open our doors today, and then be subject to "protests." It makes no sense, we agree. But it is what it is. So for these four months, we've had to very humbly say "we need you to not only fill your growler and run, but sit and eat." It isn't easy to put yourself out there like this when you're already being attacked from across the driveway, but people have been exceptionally kind and supportive.
We've found that our honesty and openness about our "situation" has brought out the best in folks, well, most folks. Some incredibly interesting, bright people have shown up at our door or inbox, willing to eating chicken pies until they explode, and wash them down with that lousy lemonade. Its what keeps us going right now, okay that and a healthy dose of financial desperation. When that "everyone in town is against you" flashes through our minds, we look at our Facebook likes and petition signatures, growing by the minute now. We think back to the kind inbox messages and diners who have come out. And we know the truth. You want us here.
Neither Sarah nor Amos is one to back down when they're wronged. Not even a little. In fact, it fuels our fire to keep going. We don't bake cookies and deliver them to our enemies, nor do pack up our bags and go home. We hunker down, prepare our case, and lunge forward. So in addition to brewing beer, planning menus, filling meat pies, our days are spent fighting the good fight. We'll get there, eventually. And when we do, we know who was there the entire time supporting us. And we know who the tiny handful of people fighting for our failure is. (They'll be proven wrong)
Today should have been the day our brewpub license was approved, had it not been for the two petitioners. Tomorrow we would have all been sitting down together at the beautiful copper bar Amos built, sharing a pint, toasting to our success and new found friendship. (This is the part that finally chokes Sarah as she types.) Instead, we'll be sharing a "Prohibition Pomegranate Cocktail" aka seltzer and juice,and a meat pie with the handful of loyal supporters. We'll greet plenty of other people for growler fills as they rightfully head out the door to enjoy meals where they can actually enjoy their Zuckfoltzfus brew WITH it.
All the while, we'll keep fighting to get that license. We hope this process will end up being worth it to those couple folks who unfairly judged us, gossiped about us in another local shop, unsuccessfully rallied against us behind our backs. We're good people, with good people supporting us. 800+ of them. At the end of the bitter battle, there will be a sweet victory, with some fabulous beer and amazing people we can call our friends.
PS - We know these posts tend to get shared and printed, delivered around town. Always happy to give you something to chat about.
Keep on Zuckin'