December 14, 2011

Chicago, IL - Beer School Day 2

On Day 2 of the Siebel course, we hit the ground running and dove straight into some spreadsheets. Tim Lane of Goose Island Brewpubs led the session and guided the class through various charts, sales projections and cost analyses, demonstrating how important the math can be when running a restaurant.

Just a few of the things you need to ask yourself if you want your pub to be successful: What's the average check amount? How many turns of the tables each day? What's the profit margin on each menu item? What are your projected sales minus the total cost of goods sold and payroll and other expenses? Bottom line: Serving food really complicates things.

December 6, 2011

Chicago, IL - My Kind of (Beer) Town

Finally, I've had a chance to check out the city Sinatra's been singing about -- Chicago.

I was in the Windy City last week taking a Start Your Own Brewery course through the Siebel Institute.  The 3-day seminar was held at the Goose Island Pub in the Clybourn neighborhood and covered a wide range of topics, including business plan development, site selection and construction, brewpub operations, starting a packaging brewery, distribution, marketing, and much more.  The class was moderated by Ray Daniels, author of the highly-rated homebrewing manual Designing Great Beers.  For each segment of the class, Ray brought in different players from the Chicago and Midwest beer scene to talk about their experiences.  I was pleasantly surprised with both the breadth and depth of the course.  Hearing from people who had actually been successful in the beer business was both inspiring and eye-opening.

DAY 1 started with a brief overview of the course and introductions by each of the students in the class.  The 53 students came from all over the country.  I noticed the class was about 80-90% bearded male, a trend commented on here and inspiring this brewer and his blog.  Anyways, I digress.