Former Brew it Up! owner seeking investment for comeback
Will Brew it Up! return? The answer is a resounding "maybe."
The brewpub and restaurant that featured a brew-your-own-beer aspect in addition to its selection of craft beers closed last year after a 15-year run. Now, owner Mike Costello said he’s got a new business plan in place to resurrect some of the successful aspects of the former business, and build upon them.
He’s only missing one thing.
“It all comes down to money,” he said, adding that while he has pledges of about $300,000, the potential investors don’t have quick access to the money, and he’s looking for something more solid in the next month.
“Basically, the long and the short of it is that the concept of Brew it Up! worked,” Costello said. “We just pushed the finer dining aspect of it too hard.”
Costello said he will not own the next business, Brewhouse Concepts Land & Management, but will be an employee. Any new business will likely be run by a board of directors made up of investors.
The business itself will be markedly different as well. Instead of focusing on a brewery and restaurant concept, Costello said, the plan will be to focus on larger-scale manufacturing of the beers that already have a name in the local market and expand to other parts of the state and region. A tasting room and individual brewing facilities will still be included.
“We have a strong portfolio of beers people like,” Costello said.
Beers that were popular at Brew it Up! and will return if the new business is funded include the Vienna Lager, Oatmeal Stout, Engine 2 Pale Ale, Nordendorf Pilsner and Captain Ron’s Double IPA.
Despite using Brew it Up! recipes and having the name associated with the new business, there is a solid barrier between the two, and Costello said it is too early to say whether existing gift cards, Groupons or the like that were for Brew it Up! will be honored by the new business.
Until money is invested, Costello said, there won’t be serious talks about a location, but somewhere in Sacramento, West Sacramento or Roseville will be a priority.
“It makes sense to start in Sacramento because we already have a market here,” he said. “We’re going to be in a place with lower overhead, and we won’t serve food, initially.”
The setting could be a warehouse or other more industrial space than the downtown corner of 14th and H streets, where Brew it Up! was located, and though there will be a tasting room, food will be handled by outside sources such as food trucks.
“I took what worked, and I focused on that,” Costello said, referencing the new business plan. “Now we’re looking at what else is strong, and we’re focusing there.”
“Hyper-optimistically, if I am able to get the funding by the end of the month, I could open three months from then, so by Oct. 1,” he said.
Sonny Mayugba, executive vice president of the marketing and communications firm Augustine Ideas and a partner at Red Rabbit Kitchen & Bar, said he’s seen Costello’s business plan, and he thinks it can be “wildly successful.”
“He learned a lot from failure,” Mayugba said. “He had a pretty good success for years, but he’s learned a lot from the old place and is applying it to the new one.”
Mayugba said he was a fan of Brew it Up!, and he liked the aspect of indvidual brewing.
“I not only used it personally, but it was a great thing for company gifts and employee team-building and things like that,” he said. “I thought it was very cool that you could do that in Sacramento.”
Despite his praise for the private brewing aspect, Mayugba said he thinks it’s secondary to the distribution angle of the new venture.
“The part that has me most excited is the manufacturing aspect,” he said. “Beer is seeing a huge resurgence, especially in craft brews. My thought is to keep it eminently local and really own a small region. He’s not going to come out and be where Sierra Nevada or Lagunitas is right away.”