Location, Location, Location?
Saturday January 2, 2016
To briefly recap:
Mid-2014 saw our agreement with a landlord in Northport fall apart, by year’s end we found a suitable space in Smithtown. Unfortunately, after beginning demo work on the interior during last winter’s heavy snows, the septic system at the Smithtown location was found to be failing and in danger of collapse. A few months were spent working with our architect and the health department on possible solutions, but none were to be had. That left us in June of 2015 back on the hunt for a new space.
Finding a site for the expanded version of the brewery has continued to be a challenge. Multiple factors must be satisfied to successfully establish a location.
First, the building itself must be suitable for a brewery (strong floors, adequate ceiling height, gas service, sewer preferable to septic, etc.). Also, does the location of the building make sense for the business model?
Second, can a deal be made with the landlord? Not every landlord will even consider a brewery as a tenant, and not every landlord is someone you can make a mutually-satisfactory deal with.
Finally, there are all sorts of government agencies that might have something to say that can prevent the establishment of a brewery at your preferred location. There could be zoning restrictions, the brewery can’t be within 200 feet of a school or house of worship, the health department can kill a deal if the building is not on sewer, etc.
Recent examples of sites that did not work out illustrate how the three main factors must all come together.
In Farmingdale, we identified an excellent location (new construction near the train station) and found a very supportive local government. After extensive negotiations, we were able to come to a satisfactory agreement with the landlord. However, serious structural issues were discovered four months in. Despite repeated assurances that the concrete floor over a basement parking garage was strong enough for the brewery, only when we got a structural engineer to take into account our actual operations was it discovered that we were exceeding the capacity of the floor by 200%.
In Babylon, we found another government happy to have us at a location we found in the north-east corner of the village. In this case, after a number of meetings over the course of a month and being welcomed as a prospective tenant, the landlord changed his mind about having a brewery in his building.
In Kings Park, we found a building and location we were very happy with, and a landlord we had good accord with. The health department, however, killed the deal. There is a formula of property size, designated use, and gallons-per-day flow rate for wastewater when a property is on septic rather than sewer. Our calculations of the brewery operations along with a tasting room were within the allowed rate for the property. However, the county health department insisted on applying a higher flow rate (that of a full bar) to the tasting room. This put us over the allowed gallons per day flow rate for that property. A number of other sites in north-western Suffolk had the same flow-rate issues.
Other sites were deemed impractical (some too expensive, some too small, some were problematic due to town and village restrictions).
So, where are we as of today?
Nothing to be revealed as yet, the hunt continues. We are on the trail of a number of prospects... more to follow when we have news to share...