Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Location

Remember all that nonsense about how Jane and I would walk away from RePublic if we couldn't raise enough equity capital by May 29th? Here's what happened.

Jane and I originally wanted to locate our pub on Atwood Ave. The smaller of the two Atwood Community Center buildings would have been perfect in terms of geography, but receiving deliveries would've been a nightmare. Aside from ACC and the old Bunky's building, which the landlord wouldn't even let us look at because we weren't fully funded, there wasn't anything available. So we branched out and shifted our focus to the areas near Sherman Ave and Northport. We liked Northgate enough to make it our fallback spot, but it still didn't have the neighborhood accessibility we were looking for. Meanwhile, our May deadline was approaching and we hadn't raised anywhere near the amount of equity capital needed for banks to take us seriously (at least 25% of the total project cost).

Things changed when I received an email from Neil Stechschulte, the Economic Development Coordinator of Sun Prairie. The city's been trying to get a brewpub for years, and it's willing to provide financial incentives to make it happen. After touring some downtown locations with Neil and learning all about tax increment financing and revolving loan funds, Jane and I were sold. After all, our options at that point were (a) give up because we couldn't raise enough capital or (b) hope the money from Sun Prairie would make up the difference. The big surprise was how much better downtown Sun Prairie fit with our concept than any of the non-Atwood places we found in Madison.

After considering a few spots, we ultimately decided on the former ACME Automotive building at 117 Columbus Street. Those garage doors would make an excellent spillway to an outdoor seating area, wouldn't they? Anyway, we hadn't been able to talk about it until now for two reasons:

-We didn't want to motivate anybody else to buy the building.
-We wanted the neighbors to be the first to know about the project.

We were initially going to try and lease the space, but the owner preferred to sell. Assuming we could raise the extra money needed for a down payment, it made a lot more financial sense to buy the place. We'd been negotiating the purchase terms over the last three weeks and finally reached an agreement last Tuesday. Jane and I now have 60 days (from 8/4) to raise about 80% of our required startup capital. During that time, the building owner can't accept another offer. If we're unable to raise the money in time, which is expected (our original offer gave us 90 days), we'll have the option of "buying" another 60 days by making our earnest payment non-refundable. Or we can just walk away and make another offer once we have the money, effectively gambling on the owner not being able to sell the building during that time.

On the neighborhood front, I sent letters to the owners of nearby houses and adjacent businesses. The few responses we've received have been a mix of enthusiasm and concern. Hopefully Jane and I will be able to spread the word about how well-behaved craft beer consumers tend to be, how our atmosphere and pricing will keep out the "pound twelve Budweisers" crowd, and how our business will have a much smaller impact than a giant establishment such as Great Dane.


jkmartin said...

Congratulations on finding a location, and good luck going forward. I was hoping for an east side location, but I'm looking forward to it all the same.

SuburbanDad said...

As a Sun Prairie resident and craft brew fan, I am ECSTATIC about a Brew Pub coming to my town. I look forward to learning more...

Beer fan said...

Glad you found a location. Although another brew pub in Madison would have been great, I can't say there isn't already outstanding beer selection on the east side. Not sure about Sun Prairie, so maybe your skills and brews are more needed there.

Looking forward to visiting after July 5, 2010, when you will be smoke-free. (If you are now, please make sure to advertise that. I've been avoiding Sun Prairie until next year.)

Joe said...

Thanks, y'all! We'll definitely be smoke-free on the inside, and we're leaning towards a smoke-free outdoor seating area. We're not sure if that will fly in Sun Prairie, though. A number of sources have told us "the people here like to smoke." Then again, people would've thought you were crazy if you tried to open a smoke-free pub ten years ago.

Bob said...

Sun Prairie is devoid of better beer with only maybe one bar even attempting anything along the lines of supporting craft beer. This is GREAT NEWS

Palmer said...

Good news! Don't forget that I'll paint for beer. :)


Gage Mitchell said...

Congrats Joe!

I've only been to Sun Prairie once, but when RePublic settles in, I'll have to visit often. I think this will be great for that community too, and don't worry about the naysayers in town, they'll come around when they taste your delicious beer.

It was a pleasure meeting you at the Great Taste and good luck raising the funds for your building.


Jason said...

Great location. I'm in Sun Prairie and think you'll find it's just what this town needed.