Managing Events, Staff for Multiple Venues

Ryan Evans feels that focusing on events pays​ off and it has become a serious part of Bruz Beers’ business model.

“The more energy and commitment we have towards hosting quality events in our spaces, the more we see revenue increase as well as our brand image,” explained Evans, who is the co-founder of Bruz. “Different events tend to bring in new and different people, allowing us to grow organically in a positive way.​“

At the Denver brewery’s main taproom, Evans told Brewer they have a very large space that they can dedicate to groups while a second location that spawned in 2019 offers consumers a second tasting room experience.

Although they do not have a private room at the original facility, and Evans said they have a policy that they do not close the place to the public, Bruz has successfully hosted 100-plus person events all while remaining open to others.

“This blended model works well at the main brewery, but we cannot charge a premium for it,” Evans said. Instead, the Bruz Off Fax location has the luxury of an additional covered outdoor patio that people can rent for private events while also remaining open to the public.

“Because the covered outdoor space can be made private, we can charge for its use,” Evans said.

​MadTree’s “Alcove” location, which was announced this past spring, has helped the Cincinnati brewery’s revenue ​stream ​by its very existence.

​“​Another revenue stream can only do good things for us as a company​,” said Private Events Manager, Alyssa Kleespies. ​“​We’re hoping to increase our sales flow by 70% in the hospitality department alone, not even including our distribution flow.

​“​We’ll be able to offer a range of options that do not necessarily exist at our current location like full​-​course dining, cocktails and wine, and a new space for our guests to explore.​“

​Ultimately​, Kleespies said,​ the two spaces will serve to build business for one another​.

“Someone who has a great experience at Alcove might want to try the Oakley ​taproom for the first time, and vice versa​,” she said.​

In nearby Columbus, Ohio, Wolf’s Ridge opened its brewery and main dining room in the fall of 2013, but the brewery’s taproom wasn’t established until the winter of 2015. The building was previously used as a car dealership when it was built more than 100 years ago, and Events Coordinator Alicia Herrmann said they were able to utilize the old showroom to house the taproom.

“We soon started receiving inquiries from folks wanting to rent out the space for their special occasions, as well as corporations reaching out to host parties during conventions that were happening just a few blocks away,” she said. “While this helped bring in guaranteed revenue, it was alienating our regular guest base and we knew we could not continue on this path.”

There was another unused space connected to the building, which Wolf’s Ridge would utilize for its large anniversary parties. After working out a new lease with its landlord, the brewery took over that section and started a complete buildout for a dedicated event space.

This new space includes a pre-kitchen, to help both with day-to-day operations, and provide a space for a kitchen team to execute event offerings without interrupting normal services. This summer, the company pulled the trigger on a second concept, and ultimately a new event space called Understory.

So now, event coordinators take the time to work with the organizers on the guest side to customize a unique experience for each individual event.

“Our most booked event styles are rehearsal dinners and baby showers, as we have the ability to host formal, seated meals as well as casual, buffet-style,” Herrmann said. “Additionally, we often host micro-weddings, both formal and casual.”

During the week, Wolf’s Ridge will host quite a few business gatherings, as its space features a projection system and screen. Herrmann said that guests are able to connect their own devices, and present slideshows and other media if they’d like.

“We generally ask for at least two weeks advance notice to plan and host an event, but we’ve thrown together a wedding in as little as seven days,” Herrmann said. “Recently, we’ve taken the initiative to get back to hosting small groups for happy hours in our public taproom, reserving standing room tables to provide a casual atmosphere for folks to gather without requiring them to agree to a minimum spend or pay a rental fee for use of a private space.”

When thinking about how to put together packages for events, Kleespies​ said MadTree​ has​ to consider what would be attractive to the customer, first and foremost.

​“​We have to think about use-case scenarios for each space and ensure that what we are putting together is adaptable enough to fit many needs​,” she said of both the main taproom location in Oakley, Ohio, and at the Alcove spot. “We try not to shy away from any specific type of event, it is always exciting to bring something new in the doors and see how we can accommodate.​“

​Bruz get​s​ several requests a week for events at ​both​ ​locations. Evans said they steer clear on anything political or overly-controversial.

​“​We remain neutral politically as a company, as our job is to create a fantastic environment to enjoy great beer with even better people, and not to try and steer a political position​,” he said. “Weddings are always fun, and we have done several, but clear expectations have to be established early on that the public will in some way be a part of their special day.

​“​Most people looking to host an event at a brewery are on board with the laid​-​back community environment.​“​

Monthly and weekly planned events like music night and trivia can take some time to build steam, but become successful in the long run​, he said,​ as long as you promote them properly.

With two locations in town, Evans said Bruz has assigned the role of event management between two on-site managers. Between booking weekly music, daily food trucks, and managing individual event details, the position continues to grow into an important role within the company.

“The role is part-time along with their on-site manager duties and bartending, but it works well,” he said. “It also gives us a chance to elevate their role in the company followed by increased compensation. At the end of the day, these positions are what the customer sees and experiences, and is a direct reflection on our brand and beers. It is a fun position that introduces us to a wide range of new customers.

At the beginning of the pandemic, ​Wolf’s Ridge’s original events coordinator took the opportunity to leave the service industry. As a result, ​Herrmann said they promoted ​the two on-site coordinators/assistants to take over the position.

​“​While it was not necessary to promote two individuals at the time, due to the inability to even host events according to state mandates, we knew that we eventually wanted to expand our events division and wanted to get ahead of the game​,” she said.

Luckily ​she said, they did​ as such​, as ​Wolf’s Ridge decided to pull the trigger on a new concept​ of Understory​​ this summer​.

“The event space opened just before the 2021 holiday season, and we’ve found that our original location (The Hickory Room at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing) booked up quickly, and we were able to offer our new location to inquiries whose desired dates had already been booked​,” she said. ​

MadTree already has an Event Sales Manager who took on the new bar/restaurant location of Alcove — located in the historic Over the Rhine district of Cincinnati — as part of her full-time job.

“Private events are already a huge part of what we do in our Oakley taproom so adding another location with two more spaces was very natural for us,” Kleespies said. “The Event Sales Manager will have a lot more on her plate now with double the spaces to book, but she’ll have help from the team in the new space in terms of planning and execution.

“Eventually it will need to become two positions as sales volume increases at each location.”

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