Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Information Overhaul

I moved The Dork Pages from Google Pages, which is no longer supported, to here:

RePublic Brewpub on Google Sites

The new website automatically tracks changes, which will make it easier for you to figure out when your copies of files are outdated. This presents a challenge to me because I'm in the habit of reloading the files whenever the mood strikes. From now on, I'll need to be more selective in order to avoid bombarding you with pointless (from your perspective) updates. If this process makes me less anal-retentive, I'll consider it a success.

Recent updates include the carbonation calculator, the capping gravity calculator, the homebrew inventory tracker, both brewlogs and both recipe calculators.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Staying Focused

When Jane and I started this weblog, our goal was to document the startup process so interested parties could follow our progress and future business owners could learn from our experiences. Lately, I've been ranting about politics and drawing poop jokes. The temptation to mention the aftermath of a British beer tax increase (bottom third of the article) and Large-Scale Sustainable Agriculture is so great that I can't resist.

With that out of the way, I'm all about reform. Here are some FAQs written in the tradition of websites where questions aren't actually asked:

"Do you have a location yet?" Nope, but we're constantly looking. We've found a few sites that would be suitable, but we still have a couple of months to find a place that's truly wonderful. Know of any? We need about 3,000 square feet and 11' high ceilings. A place that nearby residents could walk to would be awesome. So would a place that's already plumbed and wired for a bar or restaurant.

"How's raising money going?" Pretty poorly, to be honest. Jane and I aren't rich, we don't know many people with the means to invest, and securities laws prevent us from soliciting investments from people we don't know. Madison bankers: every single one of you is going to know my name by the end of next month.

"What are you brewing?" We have House Ale, Belgian Pumpkin Ale and Chocolate Porter in bottles. A Pale Ale is in the fermenter and I'll be brewing a Belgian Blond next. I hope to repeat and perfect the four regulars (the beers listed above minus the Pumpkin), but I won't be able to stop myself from mixing it up with some special brews. The brewery that I recently helped with their financial projections just sent me about two and a half pounds of Cascade and Columbus hops, so we're in for a bitter and citrusy summer.

"Are you hiring?" I wish. Check back in November.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tavern Sales

Recently, the Brewers Association released its 2008 Craft Brewing Statistics and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) released its 2009 Restaurant Industry Forecast. Last week, I updated RePublic's business plan to reflect the new information. Diving back into the numbers got me thinking about whether or not my sales assumptions are reasonable.

Every year (I think), the NRA conducts a nationwide survey of restaurants and publishes the results in a document called the Restaurant Industry Operations Report. In the most recent edition, the median sales per seat for restaurants with average checks of $10-$14.99 was $9,859. I've been using that figure as the basis of RePublic's expected revenue, but one thing about the number bothers me: the median food sales reported by the NRA was 85.4% of total sales, but I'm only expecting food to account for 50% of RePublic's total sales (the NRA considers non-alcoholic beverages to be food, so 'beverage' equals 'alcohol only' throughout this discussion). Common sense suggests that bars without food will typically have far lower sales than $9,859 per seat. Unfortunately, I don't know of any published data that describes the sales of establishments with less than 70% food. I also suspect that sales per seat will drop for restaurants with no alcohol, which should cause a bar/restaurant sales prediction to look something like this:

I know that one former tavern in town sold about 50% food and generated around $5,500 per seat in annual sales. The place wasn't open seven days a week, though, and I wouldn't describe their operation as "busy". Returning to industry-wide data, the NRA provides five data points that I feel are useful (all for restaurants with average customer checks under $15):

-Median sales per seat (checks of $10-$14.99) = $9,859/yr
-Median food sales (checks of $10-$14.99) = 85.4%
-Median sales per seat, no booze = $8,345/yr
-Maximum reported beverage sales = 27.9%
-Maximum reported beverage sales per seat = $2,500/yr

Assuming the 27.9% and $2,500/yr figures are from the same establishment, the total sales per seat would be $8,961. That allows us to describe three scenarios based on NRA data:

-Sales per seat with 100% food = $8,345/yr.
-Sales per seat with 85.4% food = $9,859/yr.
-Sales per seat with 72.1% food = $8,961/yr.

Using that data, a linear graph can be drawn that looks like this:

It's not pretty, but at least it acknowledges that total revenue will depend on the food-to-beverage sales ratio. The result is that RePublic's projected sales per seat would drop from $9,859/yr to $7,469/yr. I'm aware that every market is different, but the raw NRA data should be in the ballpark. Comments from bar/restaurant owners on how I'm interpreting that data, or on sales per seat vs. food/beverage mix in general, would be most welcome!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

New Obsession

Lew Bryson wrote a great piece about excise taxes today. I'd imagine that smuggling beer is harder than smuggling cigarettes, but I've seen Fat Tire for sale around here before.