Micro Brewery Trend Affects Traditional City Centre Outlets
Having grown up in the U.K. and used to British traditional ales, I was excited at the evolution and development of the craft beer industry.
But the rapid rise in brew pubs and brewery outlets will lead to concern for some municipalities who will lose patrons from the downtown as beer fans flock to the outskirts to sip delicious ales.
What started as an industry to supply a variety of ales to other food and beverage outlets, and supported by a small amount of onsite sales, has morphed into an industry that has little empathy for retail outlets that market their products, or could.
I was surprised when I visited Kelowna a few weeks ago and noticed that on a Tuesday evening, the bars and restaurants downtown were virtually empty.
Then someone told me to take a look at the almost dozen micro breweries that have opened in the Okanagan and as I drove around it was obvious that patrons were spilling out of the doors.
As I understand it, the initial intent was to open breweries in industrial areas and allow a restricted license to sell onsite beer.
The license would limit the times the businesses should close. Of course, it starts that way and then a lobby from the owners, which is completely natural, flexes the licences.
It is a disruptive service that is killing the traditional pub to a large extent.
The disruption taking place is allowing the businesses to locate off Main Street, avoiding the pricier leases and taking advantage of a district where parking is not an issue and certainly is not charged for. It is a significant advantage and a real draw for many clients.
In realizing that extended hours were possible, it allowed the breweries to compete with downtown merchants not only in terms of hours and parking, but they could also reduce the cost of the product by brewing on site.
The final nail in the coffin for many traditional outlets was when the current trend of bringing in food trucks to the location allowed for food to be served, but required no investment in kitchen equipment or the lengthy and bureaucratic delays of getting the food aspect licensed.
All in all, it is a brilliant plan and is obviously de rigueur. Sadly, it may be to the demise of the typical hostelry that for generations has served clients in inner city areas.
Life is often about reading the rules and figuring out how much slack there is to bend without getting on the wrong side of the same rules.
It may just be easier to get parking in inner city areas now and you may not have to book to get a table.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.