We have leased a building!
Our new home is in the heart of the Central Park warehouse district, at the corner of Geer and Rigsbee. 726 Rigsbee (see it on Google Maps) has just about everything we were looking for:
- 8,000 square feet of open warehouse space
- high ceilings and concrete floors
- great location in a up-and-coming area of town
- affordable -- breweries need a lot of space at warehouse prices!
- zoned industrial, so we can focus on brewing
- a bit o' history
- room to expand, if our concept of "Southern experimental beers" proves successful over time
As Kevin mentions over at Bull City Rising, it was a heckuva long search for a home. But I'd like to think that the in this year-long process, we learned a heckuva lot about 1) what we want to do, 2) what Durhamites wanted, and 3) what makes us different.
1) What we want to do. We want to run a brewery and tavern. In that order. 32 and I love brewpubs (restaurant/breweries), but the key takeaway here is that brewpubs are restaurants first, breweries second. With ten years in the restaurant biz -- including 2.5 at Durham's Magnolia Grill -- I know just how demanding and tough the restaurant world is. More importantly, we looked around at all the great restaurants in the Triangle area and realized that we'd much rather serve these establishments than compete with them.
That said, we're very excited about the plans for our on-premises tavern, which we're calling Fullsteam R&D. Equal parts mad science lab, steampunk bar, and event space, we hope R&D will quickly evolve into a comfortable and affordable "regular." And who knows how Fullsteam will change over time.
Which brings us to...
2) What Durhamites wanted. Over the year-long search, we did a lot of listening -- both in-person and online. It become pretty clear that, these days, Durhamites seemed much more interested in a brewery-and-tavern than a restaurant/brewpub. That an affordable place to grab a pint and a pie was resonating more than a sit-down restaurant that specialized in great food matched with great beer. That's not to take anything away from the "gastropub" concept; in fact, it's more a testament to the fact that there are already great places like this out there. But a hometown brewery with a comfortable, lively on-site tavern was clearly more appealing to you, our customer base.
3) What makes us different. This time of planning and preparation has allowed 32 and me to nail down Fullsteam's "plow-to-pint" concept. We're super-excited to create experimental "Southern ag" beers. To develop a distinctly Southern beer style using local farmed ingredients and heirloom grains. And to support local farmers in our beer-making venture. Over the past year, we've vetted concepts, tested out beers, and held a dozen or so tastings. We're discovering what our big sellers might be (Hogwash, Common, Sweet Potato, Scuppernong) and what might not sell so well (concepts unnamed to protect our innocence). Those of you who've tried out our beers: thank you for your feedback and insights. You may think you're just getting free beer, but you're really helping Fullsteam grow into a successful venture. Thank you so much...and be on the lookout for more tasting/volunteering opportunities in the weeks ahead.
We'll have an official press release tomorrow (Monday, June 15th) to announce our location. Keep in mind that we've got a long road ahead, full of potential pitfalls and blunders. But finding a space is often the hardest part of making a brewery succesful. The next huge challenge is bringing it in on-time and within budget!
We're excited to join the diverse community of successful ventures in Durham's most electic district, Central Park. We're proud that we're already working with several businesses in the district, including Ellen Cassilly Architect and Dave Wofford, resident genius at Horse & Buggy Press.
In the months and years ahead, we pledge to continue to solicit your insights to help make Fullsteam -- the brewery and the tavern -- a peerless mix of our ideas and your interests.