How Breweries Can Help Develop Their Neighborhoods

When Michael Marquess moved into the neighborhood that Mother Road Brewing is now in, there was a bike shop. In seven years, along with the brewery, the development around the area has sprung.

“I think that’s one of the things that gets missed when people look at breweries a lot of times,” explained Marquess. “Planning developers, especially out here (in Flagstaff, Arizona), are like, ‘Oh it’s just another bar going in,’ and they don’t understand the culture of a brewery — especially a production brewery with a taproom — is part of that community and it only wants the best for the neighbors and the community they’re part of.”

It’s a “rinse-repeat” pattern really. Breweries open in areas where property values may be lower to help offset start-up costs and after getting established, other places begin to move in as well.

“Once a brewery is in, you know you’re not going anywhere and it just makes it easier for other people to have the courage to come to a neighborhood with you because they know you’re not going anywhere,” Marquess said. “It’s not like a retail shop where it can be up one day and gone the next with a few clothes racks or whatever.

“Once those tanks are in … the plumbing … you’re just not moving anywhere.”

The downtown area of Flagstaff does a First Friday art walk and the South Side — which is the neighborhood between Route 66 and Northern Arizona University — really wasn’t the place that you saw families and people walk in.

“They really wouldn’t leave the one block over to come over and see,” Marquess recalls. “And what’s happened is, after you go in, you get a couple of people first then you hit a critical mass or a tipping point … and that point is where all of the sudden people realize it is safe to bring friends and strollers and dogs and everything else over.

“And you start getting that foot traffic and bring the energy in.”

Knee Deep‘s production facility is in a non-residential area, next to a private airport, golf course, and a good number of commercial establishments. Since they have moved there, two other breweries have opened up just down the road, said Andrew Moore, the brewery’s Sales and Marketing Manager. More restaurants have opened on one of the main highways which is also next to Knee Deep.

“There is a lot of history in our town and a lot to do outdoors,” he said. “The town we are in is very old-school local and is becoming a fun destination for the younger crowds, and having craft options plays a big part.”

The Arts District in downtown Los Angeles has gone through a dramatic transformation over the past two decades, but particularly over the last five years, noted Angel City‘s Dan Shapiro. “Originally a heavy manufacturing area, it was slowly transformed into a thriving community for artists that wanted to make use of the plentiful studio space,” he pointed out. “When Angel City Brewery arrived in 2012, the Arts District was right on the cusp of transforming into a booming food, drink, and nightlife area.

“This has shifted the cultural center of gravity in Downtown east, and has been a transformative force in revitalizing LA’s downtown.”

Shapiro added that craft beer is an industry that impacts people in many different ways.

“We’re a manufacturer, a community center, an art gallery, a performance venue, and a tourist destination — so it makes sense that our space has brought so many different people to the area,” he said. “And that has an undeniable impact on the area around us. We’re proud to put the neighborhood at the core of our business, because it influences so much of our culture.”

Marquess feels the same way.

“We’ve bent over backwards to help out neighborhood beautification projects who do trash cleanup walks on the weekends,” he said. “There’s a lot of things where you just really become a hub of a neighborhood and that what it’s about is having good neighbors because they support us and we want to be there for them.”

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