Strategies For Opening Secondary Tap Rooms

Gilman Brewing in Berkeley and Daly City Sept. 20, 2019 in San Francisco, Calif. Nader Khouri 2019

Opening a second location is no small task, let alone a second and third within a year of each other. 

Sean Wells, owner and brewmaster of Gilman Brewing, based out of Berkeley, California, knows the process all too well. The brewery recently opened a second taproom out of Daly City.

There has always been room for growth, Wells said, because the business model has always been tap room centric.

It not only makes economic/financial sense but it also allows you to control your guest experience,” Wells said, “making sure your product and brand are represented/served the way we want it to be.

The key to his success is staying organized and taking notes. After trying out several different organizational techniques, Wells stuck with old fashioned paper note-taking.

Learning to trust your team and delegate is essential but keeping the notes and remembering to circle back and confirm everything has been completed is even more critical,” he said.

Still, you can’t control everything, and Wells’ advice is to expect delays.

“If it can go wrong, it will,” he said. “Keep it simple…. oh, and build more bathrooms than you think you need the first time.”

That’s one of the lessons he took with him to Daly City. He built more and larger bathrooms, and also made sure to lock down outdoor seating prior to opening.

Moving forward for the next tap room set to open in Pleasanton in early 2020, the biggest difference is that Wells bought the building.

“That will eliminate a lot of the headaches that are sometimes generated by landlords and definitely streamline the building process with the city. Also, more defined construction contracts,” Wells said.

In terms of hiring, Wells wants to keep it local and family-friendly.

“Our best employee referrals have been the ones that have come from within our own circle of friends/family,” he said. “Also, recruiting locally helps with both retention and with recruiting for other employees.  It strengthens the ties with the local community and helps in networking with other local businesses.”


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