Could A Simple Spin-Off Create New Opportunities for Your Brewpub?

Food service has contributed favorably to Fifty West Brewing Company’s notoriety in Cincinnati since the grand opening of its first brewpub in 2012.

In 2020, though, Fifty West found itself facing the same conundrum that many indoor-seating eateries did: How would it continue to serve customers amid strict COVID guidelines? A spin-off burger bar across the street that sold simple food via counter service for consumption in its beer garden proved to be a solution that has continued nearly three years later.

“The brewpub had to follow strict guidelines while it was closed in early 2020 due to the limited seating capacity of 80,” said Julie Turner, Social Media Coordinator. “We learned that the space wasn’t as big as it needed to be to survive a pandemic.”

An old diner was located next to Fifty West’s production facility. The company acquired it to house the burger bar and the success of the new venture led Fifty West to make it a permanent fixture.

“The Burger Bar originally only had an order pickup window and outdoor seating,” Turner said. ”This decision was made out of necessity at the time, but we found that the convenience of counter service was well-received by customers and there was little disappointment that it wasn’t full table service. 

“We wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere for people who just wanted to stop in for a beer without feeling pressure to order food. Over time, the counter-only service has become a key part of the old-school root beer stand atmosphere of the Burger Bar. It is a more casual, family-friendly setting where guests can stop in for a bit without feeling obligated to stay for a full meal.”

The success of the burger bar as a casual eatery led Fifty West’s brewpub in the opportunity for a new direction.

While the brewpub was shuttered, Fifty West made renovations, updating floors, fixtures, bathrooms, the bar top, beer taps and the seating, giving the structure built in 1827 a facelift ahead of its January 4 reopening. 

With the burger bar serving the brand’s casual dining needs, the Brewpub hired chef Jackson Rouse to work on an updated, upscale menu with dinner plates that include mussels, salmon, pot roast, and lamb meatballs, complimenting the burgers, hot dogs, fries and root beer served at the Burger Bar.

The menu offerings will be paired with 24 unique taps that will be offered only at the brewpub, which hopes to gain momentum with an evolving audience.

“Some of these experimental beers will be brewed onsite in our small brewing system and may not be available at our other locations, like the Burger Bar,” Turner said. “The Brewpub will offer a more upscale dining experience at reasonable prices, and we hope to be a popular date night spot on the east side of Cincinnati.

“We are grateful to have a loyal customer base that wanted to see the brewpub revitalized and reopened, and now we have the best of both worlds. The brewpub offers the cozy atmosphere and craft beers that we always envisioned, while the burger bar provides a larger, outdoor space that is better suited for families and large parties.”

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