​Learning From Taproom Expansions

Dust Bowl Brewing recent announced that the Turlock, California-based brewery is opening up another taproom, this time in Monterey, California. The popular coastal tourist destination is two hours southwest of the brewery’s headquarters and will be known as the Dust Bowl Brewing Tap House.

From the outset, founder and owner of Dust Bowl, Brett Tate said location research started over two years ago.

“Choosing a site that fit our brand aesthetic was part of the criteria,” he said. “With that said, we naturally got really excited about Monterey. There’s an incredible brand connection with famous author, John Steinbeck, who utilized Monterey as a backdrop to his writing on the Dust Bowl migration out west.”

Just as they do in their two existing taprooms, Dust Bowl will showcase expansive historical images throughout the interior to immerse consumers with local history and the folklore of the brewery’s branding. Tate said the furnishings will feature industrial finishes. The Tap House will have mostly communal-style seating along with lounge seating around fire pits on the back patio.

“The idea is to stay on point with branding, weave in our shared history in the way of images, and surround consumers in a cool, comfortable vibe that invites people to stay and return,” he said.

A business plan was created and presented to Dust Bowl’s bank, with whom Tate says they have a close, long-standing relationship.

“We’re utilizing conservative projections to help mitigate the financial risk,” he said. “Our business model we intend to use there also reduces the risk – we’re going to keep it simple and beer-focused.”

The brewery has now opened two taprooms, most recently in 2016. Their last taproom was a huge endeavor, Tate noted, a 30,000 square foot facility, including a new brewery and large restaurant operation. It has outdoor entertainment, private event spaces, bocce courts, tours, and more, Tate said.

“This experience was invaluable in preparing us to expand outside of our local market,” he said. “We know there will be unforeseen issues in the process — there always are, but we’re ready.

“The footprint in Monterey is significantly smaller, so it actually feels manageable and much less overwhelming. I think our experience running the larger operation since 2016 makes it more palatable as well. We’ve spent a lot of time looking at what other breweries are doing to be successful. We’re picking and choosing to create what we believe represents the “best of the best” in a destination taproom.”

Located next to Fisherman’s Wharf, the stand-alone building was originally built in 1874 as a train depot. It is situated on the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail, which runs from Pacific Grove to Castroville, and offers panoramic ocean views from the patio.

​The location offers 3​,​600 square feet​ of interior space and 1​,​700 square​ ​feet​ on the back patio. Current plans include 24 tap lines, featuring a wide range of Dust Bowl beers. Growlers and Crowlers will be sold.

​The brewery already has distribution on the peninsula through Premium Beverage Company, based in Salinas, so consumers are familiar with Dust Bowl​, Tate said.​

​Tate added that the overall goal is to increase production and sales​ through both retail and in the taprooms​.

​”​The additional taproom provides an immediate increase in production, which helps our efficiencies across the board​,” he said. “We’ve learned from our existing taprooms that brand engagement is huge. Our focus will be on the experiential component – you have to provide excellent customer service, share your beer and brand knowledge, and ensure your guests are having a great time.

​”​Brand allegiance often starts in the taproom, which equates to higher demand in on- and off-premise accounts. We have a tremendous opportunity to touch thousands of beer fans – the peninsula locals are learning to be discerning craft beer drinkers and tourists come by the droves, looking for cool hangouts and great beer. We believe Monterey provides Dust Bowl Brewing Co. an excellent platform to grow our business.​”

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