The opening is nigh for the Summit Tap Room! We wanted to take a moment to share a little insight into our process and what went into opening our doors.
Once the bill was passed that legalized the on-premise sales of beer at Minnesota breweries, we got to work straight away. A cross departmental team met on a regular basis to build a business plan for our tap room. Our primary business is brewing beer. Adding a pub is a new business, so we wanted to treat it as such. We did research. We crunched numbers. We talked to our customers-all three tiers- the consumer, the retailer, and the distributor. We drank beer. We took our time to make educated decisions about this new endeavor.
We then put together a plan. There were a lot of important considerations to take into account:
How many days to be open?
We donate our space twice a week to nonprofits to use as a fundraising space. We didn’t want to change that. We wanted our hours to be simple and not confusing. After much debate, we settled on once a week with the possibility of additional hours in the future. This tap room is more of a hospitality endeavor than a profit driver, so one day a week, Fridays from 3-8pm, makes sense for our model.
How much should the beer cost?
It is logical argument that the price of a pint should be cheaper at the place it is made. However, it was really, really important to us that we respect the restaurants and pubs that have made us what we are these past 26 years which means we needed to be consistent with their pricing. We came up with $4 pints based on the average pricing in the Twin Cities as well what seemed to be a typical price at other brewery tap rooms.
How will we staff it?
Our current staff work really hard at their jobs. It wasn’t feasible that we use them to staff the tap room. So we invited our current tour guides to apply for the positions as well as posting the job online. We now have a crew of part-time bartenders/tour guides, as well a bar manager, to run the tap room in a knowledgeable and impassioned way. Customer service was the most important thing to us in opening a tap room. We are welcoming you into our house-you should feel at home!
What about food?
Like we said, we are brewers first and foremost. As much as we all love food here, we are not chefs or restaurateurs. So we’re bringing in the much loved food trucks. We will have different trucks each week and will post on our website and social media the schedule. Our kick off night on September 28 will feature the venerable Barrio truck.
How much do we change the space?
Do we overhaul our Ratskeller? Do we keep it the same? How do we make the space work for our tours, which can be 100 people, as well as the nonprofit nights, and also work for a more intimate tap room? Our decision was to start out simply. We are making improvements to the functionality of our bar and support kitchen, but the appearance of our Ratskeller isn’t really changing at this point. We definitely have some ideas, but those will happen over time. We are adding little touches like candles on the table, more outdoor seating for our lovely patio on the bluff, but mostly just keeping the space like the same gathering space it has been since 1998.
So we’re set to open in a week. We’ll have Hotpants DJs spinning vinyl. We’ll have an exclusive Export Stout from our pilot brewery. We’ll have Barrio on the patio. We’ll have beer flights and pints. We are very excited to see what the future brings now that we have one more way to bring you into our home. Be sure to visit our website for updates on special tappings and food trucks! We hope to see you soon!