While this is the first post in almost 9 months, it likely won't be followed by another for at least another month. This project has been all consuming. As I tried to illustrate in the previous blog posts, things are crazy and have only gotten crazier since the last blog entry. We have tried to keep things updated on our Facebook page, by posting pictures and quick updates. Eventually this blog will be started fresh and updated frequently when time allows. As of now, time runs short every day, making these posts near impossible. With that said, we are close to the stretch run. Thank you for sticking by us through the two years of renovation and start-up. We can't wait for everyone to finally see the place. -Denny
Things have been so busy, the blog has taken a back seat. With that said, our bank loan is supposed to finally close next week, the mechanical engineer is about done with his drawings, and we are back at the building working as much as possible. In the 3 months or so that this blog has been inactive, we have done a ton of things that I'll try and detail in future posts. We've structurally stabilized the building which has been the biggest feat thus far.
To get to our latest works, we knew we had some flooring issues upstairs. The floor joists were built with a 20' span, which is far longer than any building should have. A 20' span means the joists go a continuos 20' without a column for stability. In the 120 years since this building was built, these joists have sagged more and more.
As this problem developed years ago, the owners decided to level the sagging floors by building a 2nd floor on top of the first. Rather than fixing the problem, they made a purely cosmetic fix while allowing the problem to become worse. This has been an issue with about everything we've encountered inside this building.
As we began looking at the floor and debating our options, we tore off a bit to see what we had to work with. Under this 2nd floor was a disgusting amount of dirt, filth, and plaster...which made our decision rather easy. We have been tearing our all of the flooring, saving the good pieces for reuse.
Right now, you could say we have the largest and most impressive indoor pergola in Festus.
To keep this less like a book and more like a blog post, I'm going to lightly gloss over a few things that have gone on the last 2 weeks.
We finally finished digging out the basement. The work we've done for head room and footings is really hard to explain. We had some great help on one of the Saturday's which was excellent and much needed. Now that the digging is finished, we are moving toward concrete.
We worked on finalizing beers for the Centennial Beer Fest...then served those beers at the previously mentioned festival the weekend of February 21st. We brought Green Chile Beer, Oak Aged Imperial Breakfast Porter, Black IPA, Apricot Blonde, and Dunkelweizen. Each beer received a ton of great comments but the Breakfast Porter and Green Chile Beer stole the limelight. In addition, the Icing Cafe (in Oakville) prepared two desserts that paired with the Black IPA and the Breakfast Porter. The sea-salt caramel cake went with the IPA and was a huge hit. The pairing was unbelievably good. An expresso chocolate cake when with the porter which was also fantastic. Overall, the festival went as well as it could.
Outside of the festival and the digging we've had to do the standard things like life insurance (for our loan), more paperwork, applying for licenses, and prepping for upcoming work.
The next month will be huge but as of now we feel we're still well on pace for a September 1st opening.
February 4th-7th -- it's been a few days since an update and some days tend to become a blur. A few memorable things we did: received our city permit for footings and concrete, which will happen immediately after we finish digging out the basement. We did more digging in this time frame as well.
February 8th -- We dug in the basement and carried out all dirt in 5 gallon buckets. We went to lunch at Pogolino's and the three of us could barely get up when we finished eating. Overall though a very productive day...we ended up close to half done. Thanks to Arnie Foster and John Leech for their help...not only was it very cold, but the work was miserable.
February 9th -- We brewed 10 gallons of black IPA using Cascade, Centennial, and Simcoe hop bursting. We're looking forward to tasting it in the next week or so. I also checked in on the Imperial Breakfast Porter and things are progressing well. Set up a PowerPoint for a presentation to the local Kiwanis Club on the 10th.
February 10th -- A packed day. Have a presentation to the Twin City Kiwanis Club which went well, had an investor meeting, paid quite a few bills, sent out a few membership letters, and prepped some shirt shipments for tomorrow. This was on floor the day to day things like bank visits, emails, and various conversations based on the structural side of what we're doing.
We took Super Bowl Sunday off. I didn't so much as answer emails on Sunday. An off day here and there feels good.
A day of work on the federal brewer's application. I started this work in September and got a good portion done, however, with the floor plan not totally final the application had to be put on hold. With the current wait time at 4 months, it's time to get some things finalized and get the application in. The detail and requirements for this application are somewhat daunting, but less daunting than when we decided we'd renovate a broken down building from the 1880s. So...we're close to getting in the needed documentation to become a federally licensed brewery. It will feel much better when we receive our brewers notice (become licensed) but you have to start somewhere..
Thursday, January 30th
The structural crew finished shoring up both levels, which ended up making a huge difference in the interior looks. They'll be back once we're ready to pour the basement concrete and move toward the column and beam installation.
We also chalked out the floor plan to make sure the current plan for structural columns matches up well with out floor plan. We only had one column that need moved and only 11" at that.
Finally we had our main level glass installed by the folks over at Hutson Glass in Crystal City. We have some additional work on the trim, but they're installed and it feels great.
Friday, January 31 - Paying Bills
Friday was a business day. We paid some of the help from the last week or so and worked in moving toward a footing/structural permit. We hope to have our drawings approved sometime next week so we can begin pouring some concrete and footings. Other than that, we worked on a tax abatement that may or may not happen, and caught up on emails.
Saturday, February 1st - More Digging
We finished one of our two cellar rooms. To do that, we dug out 1' of dirt in the entire room then dug 1' deep footings for the upcoming structural supports. The amount of work and removed dirt has been unbelievable but when we do something we want to do it right. Now that we spend the better part of a week digging, we'll have a barrel aging room with about 6'6" of total headroom in the lowest area. That sure beats 5'6".
Today we did more digging. My Uncle, Arnie Foster came down and helped with the digging...which was a huge help. We ended up finishing one of the two rooms which was a huge deal. The amount of dirt we removed is really unbelievable. In one of the pictures I'll post, you can see how high the dirt goes in the wall cut-out.
The site no longer allows more than 8 pictures per post so a few of these are from the last 3-4 days.
I've been trying to update this thing daily as it is actually easier to maintain on a daily basis than trying to update it in large chunks...however, some days are busier than others which leads to posts like this where we fill you in on 4 days at a time.
January 25th - A big day
On Saturday, Jeremy Bell and I spent much of the day brewing 20 gallons of blonde for the upcoming Centennial Beer Festival that is slated for February 21st and 22nd. Our planned beers may change so we're waiting on announcing the final line-up but they will be announced soon.
While we were brewing, Barry and our first contract crew were busy at the building. They cut out the apartment partitions in the upstairs area, making the space look much larger than before. While that went on, Barry cut out the remaining cast iron piping, prepped one of the cast iron poles for priming, and cleaned up after the walls were removed. In general, these few sentences seem like much less was done than what actually happened.
January 26th - An even bigger day
We finally get out of the 0 degree temperatures and almost see 60 for the first time in what seems like months. We utilized the day by finishing the front facade in preparation for the plate glass. We wood-filled, sanded, and primed the trim on the window boxes, removed the rust and general nastiness from the main corner pole before priming. While we continued to work on the front, the crew inside stabilized the interior structure and began removing some of the rotten beams and joists. The building now has a temporary center beam which will soon allow us to level out the floors and begin installing the permanent beams and columns. What a difference a day makes.
January 27th - A Better Hole in the Floor
A bitter cold day, but still productive. I cleaned upstairs and began going through the pile of wood from the previous Saturday's demo day. Since we're using as much old wood (that is usable) as we possibly can, we have to go through and take out any nails, staples, or metalwork for future use. It's tedious, but when our tables have 125 year old table tops, it'll be well worth the extra salvaging efforts.
While I worked upstairs, the crew continued to shore up the main level. The supports were completed and they ripped out all of the rotten joists, the toe-nailed supports, and the metal center beam. This opened up the floor in preparation for the concrete pad for the brewing equipment. The pad, while for the heavy equipment, will double as a huge base for building support, giving a place for joists and columns to stabilize the building in preparation for the weight of business...hopefully up to 250 people in the building at one time.
January 28th - Too Cold to Work
Today was miserably cold. At 8am when the guys arrived, weather.com said it was 3 degrees with a wind chill of -11. With a building that is wide open, that sort of weather makes for pretty miserable work. With that said, the crew ended up taking out a few beams before calling it a day.
While a ton of physical work wasn't completed, the day wasn't lost. We met with a point-of-sale representative to discuss their product, what it offers, and why it may (or may not) be better than their competitors. We really want a good POS system to ensure our numbers are correct, to help our servers, cooks, and bar staff make each customer's experience as good and enjoyable as possible. A good POS system will speed up service, give a plethora of in depth information on orders, service, and trends, and allow us to make sure we are adapting to customer's likes and dislikes. It will be an integral part of the restaurant/bar. With that said, there are many options and like everything else, we are pouring over the costs, options, and benefits before locking down on a decision. We want to make sure it has the ability to accept a membership program (for our current and future members), mobile ordering and payments, and possibly the ability to pay with your phone.
We also met with a concrete contractor to bid out all of the upcoming concrete work. We have a few cubic yards of concrete coming our way...to say the least.
Other heres and theres that I won't detail: more and more things to do to get a possible tax abatement, emailing a few possible contractors about services and bids, talked to the city about the project and permitting. Set up the required life insurance for the SBA loan which is going to require an upcoming blood work up and physical.
The things we're doing for great food, excellent beer, and a beautiful place to relax...and there's so much more to come.
Today is short and sweet...to explain.
We went and bought some brewing goods at the Brew and Wine supply in Hillsboro. We needed some white wheat, some hose clamps, Ph packets, and a few trinkets for the brew day tomorrow.
After the store trip we worked in the basement, digging out more of the cellar room. To sum this up in one simple word: miserable. It was cold and difficult. With no access point other than a current cut out in the wall, this job is just terrible. When we're done we'll be digging footings, pouring concrete, and adding a drain/sump pump. Once complete this new cellar room will be able to hold about 18 full size barrels, holding about 990 gallons of beer (or about 31 total measured barrels). These barrels will be used to bring you, the customer, some seriously special releases.
Note: we know using a tiller in an enclosed space is dangerous. We used it sparingly and let the room air out afterward before continuing to work. It shaved countless hours off the process.
Yesterday we has a packed day but one that can be summed up rather quickly.
We had two investor meetings that went well. Talking about the project with others and answering questions is always fun and exciting. Getting to see other people within the community get excited about the project and the advancements we've made is an excellent feeling.
We had a large delivery of wood sent over by our friends at the Festus Do It Center. We're going to use the 90 2x4s to shore up the building to allow for further construction (we have help on this part). The work itself should start Saturday. This ridiculous cold has delayed our work and we hope the arctic weather comes to an end.
We also met with the general manager up at the always excellent Ferguson Brewing Company. Among his main duties are running the kitchen, menu development, inventories, ordering, and training the cooks. We went up to pick his brain on the importance of each thing when finding a head chef/kitchen manager. He was extremely helpful, answering our questions and giving us more confidence when it comes to hiring the perfect fit for our head chef/kitchen position. A big thank you goes out to Mr. Wiesen.
Over the last three days we've placed our equipment order. After a year or more of bids, reviews, and searching, we went with Portland Kettle Works out of Oregon. They supply 100% American made equipment which was something we felt was important. A large percentage of today's equipment comes from China, which lowers costs but in many cases the quality suffers. Between the general quality and keeping things American made, we thought PKW was the way to go.
You can check out their site at www.portlandkettleworks.com.
We've done quite a few other behind the scenes things since Monday but nothing compares to the milestone that is ordering equipment so we'll leave it at that. We're having a drink to celebrate. In a process this long, you need to pause and take in the victories as they come.
Well we met with a crew to discuss the process of jacking up our building to level the floors and lead to columns and beams. They'll likely start this upcoming Wednesday. Once we get the building jacked up, we'll be ready for windows and glass. Big changes will be seen soon...
We also unloaded the 2nd half of the walk-in cooler. Our storage unit is 10x29 and these walk-ins took ever inch. We're just excited to have this cooler debacle done and unloaded.
After unloading the cooler, we went back to the building to continue digging out our future barrel cellar. We are needing to dig our about 4-8" of dirt and rock floor to get where we need. This has been quite possibly the worst of the work we've done to this point. We're cleaning out the crawl space, digging out two rooms, and hope to pour concrete within 2 weeks.
This is all leading to great food, excellent beer, and a great experience. It's a lot of work, but we know it will be worth it.
On January 16th we met with the bank to finalize the upcoming equipment order and discussed the final authorization from the SBA. They needed a bit more info on the budget, so much of the day was relegated to computer work...checking the budget, finalizing equipment, pricing and designing an auger system (takes the freshly milled grain from the mill to the mash tun), and getting more detailed quotes on the glycol piping and solenoids (the things that turn a valve on and off when signaled).
After a very long computer day, we worked at the building. Currently we're digging out the basement to prepare for concrete. We are needing to dig our dirt floors down up to 6" and remove all dirt, rocks, ash, and bricks. This could possibly be the worst job we've had yet.
On January 17th we spent the day driving back to Virginia, IL to pick up the 2nd half of the walk-in cooler. To get the cooler, we needed a 20' U-Haul. The closest large U-Haul truck to Virginia was in Springfield...so we first drove to Springfield to pick up the truck. To take a break, we made sure to stop by the relatively new Engrained Brewing Company for a bite to eat and a beer. The place was very nice and both the food and beer were solid. If you're ever around Springfield, we suggest checking our Engrained.
Today I met with our bank, Midwest Regional Bank in Festus. We discussed the impending brewing equipment deposit to lock down our production slot. We discussed the SBA process and our finances and what we need to move toward closing. Needless to say, we have some more paperwork ahead.
We met with a contractor to look at our building and get their thoughts on jacking up the floors. We're in the process of figuring out our next big step, leading toward columns and beams. Once we start supporting the interior, things should fly.
The rest of the day was spent working on budgeting, paperwork, and getting the required life insurance for the SBA loan. Tons more to do, but a lot done today.
Starting a brewery, restaurant, and bar while renovating a late 1800's building isn't all fun all the time but we assure you we're doing everything we can to surpass expectations.
Today we had to rent a storage unit to unload the first half of the walk-in we picked up yesterday. After unloading the U-Haul we found that the vast majority of the remaining walk-in may take into the night to disassemble. So we are now looking to go pick up the remainder on Thursday morning.
We started work on prepping the final two upstairs openings for windows. Each opening had to be correctly prepped for the upcoming windows, and each opening has been different than each of the other 16.
We have a 99% final plan on our brewing equipment and hope to place the order within a few days. It has taken a ton of time and research but we feel we're going with one of the best and highest quality brew system manufacturing companies in the world. We are going to be very proud in saying our equipment is 100% American made.
We made a couple of appointments that will help in our planning of the eventual kitchen build on. Fellow brewpubs have been an incredible help and resource throughout this process and they continue to help by answering any questions we may have. Thanks to Ferguson Brewing, Prison Brews in Jeff City, Martin City Brewing in Kansas City, and Kaskaskia Brewing in Red Bud, IL. Each of these places have been vital in helping us get started.
Well I know it's been over a month since an update. I keep saying that we'll make more updates but time is short and this is one thing that's fallen behind. Again, I hope for that to change.
In the last month we've totally rebuilt the front, started to prepare the basement for concrete (for the barrel rooms), finalized equipment orders, signed a variety of insurance policies, and been approved by the SBA and bank for our business loan. There's a ton of other things but that's at least a quick rundown.
Today we drove 3 hours to buy a used walk-in cooler. To drive 3 hours one way, it had to be a great deal and it was. The only issue was the sheer size of the cooler along with the 2nd walk-in they gave us for buying the first. The two together were far larger than our huge U-Haul meaning we have a second 3 hour drive coming up...maybe as soon as tomorrow. But all in all, this find will save us thousands and the two trips are well worth the savings.
A day at home with Luke...but while at home, I was able to work with Fran (our graphic designer) on some finishing touches to the brewstore. We mentioned it about a week ago, but we'll be launching an online store for a variety of things like shirts, growlers, soft opening tickets, etc as our crowd-fund campaign didn't materialize. This allows everyone an opportunity to help us out by buying a shirt, a membership, or whatever. Every dime we make will be put right back into the renovation, trying to get the doors open as soon as we can.
A long day at the building...we ended up sanding the last opening, wood puttying the holes, re-sanding, and then finally priming. That gives us all 5 openings, ready to paint and build. We also built out the bases of the remaining 3 openings, prepping for the full rebuild. We found that water somehow made it to the roof without rain in over a week (?), so we pumped that off as well.
We finished scrapping paint off of the opening framework before sanding and patching. It sounds easy, but each opening has about 8 layers of paint and each board is fluted, making for a tough process.
The tuck-pointers finished tuck-pointing the back areas that won't be ripped out for the addition. Perfect timing before this big winter storm...
We also are trying to finalize some renovation insurance which has been a real pain.
Thursday 11/28 - Monday 12/2
Every day (including Thanksgiving), we spent more time at the building scrapping paint, sanding, grinding, and priming the front framework and columns. We are officially sick of removing paint from fluted columns and frames.
We ended up ripping out the front door (far left in the front) to prep that particular area for the rebuild. That door will never be back.
The weather took a turn for the worse, getting as low as 20 degrees...making a perfect day to head up to the city to meet with our architects to discuss the path forward. Spent the rest of the day working on the website store, catching up on emails, and meeting with potential investors.
Spent the first half of the day at the building scrapping more paint from the framework. The second half of the day was spent meeting with insurance agents about the construction insurance and our future policies regarding worker's comp, liquor liability, etc.
Wednesday 11/20 - Monday 11/25
The same old thing...prepping the building front for paint, rebuilding, and glass. Each part of the framework and columns is coated with about 8 layers of super thick paint. We've tried every possible method of removal and have found what works best for us. On the columns, we have used grinders with stainless steel wire brushes. It is a slow process but one that works. Thank you to Nathan Reese for the idea and the wire brushes.
The framework is made of 1880's true 2"x6" oak and has fluting throughout. Instead of ripping this out and replacing it (in significantly less time), we have decided to remove the paint and keep the existing fluted frames. Like everything else we're doing, we're keeping/using everything that's usable within the building. Considering the frames are wood, the grinding wasn't so much a good idea...so we tried using chemical strippers to no avail. We tried sanding with extremely course paper with no luck. We finally tried using heat guns with metal paint removers, which worked well...though slow. So as we move forward using heat guns, the wooden frames are beginning to appear under the layers of paint. We realize as we work, that this process will likely take well over a week...a week we hadn't planned on.
Well as you can tell by the dates, it has been awhile since our last update. It gets harder and harder as days pass by since there is truly so much to cover. This won't be in the detail the majority of our posts cover but I'll try and cover the main things we' done in this time frame.
Over the last 4 weeks we've done a lot of work on the front facade of the building. We knew we were going to rip down the orange brick with the cream aluminum window headers, and we had a good idea for the rebuild...but we didn't expect to find what we did. Anyone following us on Facebook or Twitter or even Instagram know by now that we found some original cast iron decorative support columns. We knew cast iron was supporting the structure but by the interior look, we assumed they would be rounded, almost like the columns you typically see in a basement. We couldn't have been more wrong. As we continued to tear out the brick, revealing the entire columns, we knew we needed to rethink our entire front look and integrate these columns into the design.
To utilize these columns, we needed to remove the paint...which we did over a matter of a week by grinding with a wire brush (thank you to Nathan Reese for lending the wire brushes and giving the idea of this particular process). In addition to the cast iron, each divided window area was completely framed in with original 2"x6" fluted oak...and in good shape considering the protection each layer of paint had given. To keep those and make sure they too are integrated into the design, we have spent the last 5-6 days removing paint by the use of heat guns and a putty knife. This process, while useful, is even more long and tedious than the grinding of the columns.
To get to the frame, we first began tearing out a couple of the windows and newer frame work around each opening. Right now the building to basically open save for a couple of nailed down tarps. We are now working to finish the paint removal in order to fully rebuild a first section, showing the community what the entire front will look like in due time.
We also had our second event on 10/26 at the Twin City Elks. The local optimist club put on an Oktoberfest event that provided both food and beer. We went through a good amount of beer at this event and we're looking forward to the event growing for next year.
We've also received a final loan commitment from Midwest Regional Bank. We are working to finalize our financial picture as we go through the SBA process...which takes time. While that goes through, we are meeting with local investors to get to the magic number needed before the loan closes.
A ton more has gone on in the last three weeks including a ton of insurance applications to start gathering quotes on all the needed insurances we'll have, continuing work on the brewer's application, finishing out the Dreamfund campaign, and getting the almost final structural drawings from our engineer.
As I've mentioned before, I'll try and keep up with the blog rather than let 3+ weeks pass between updates.
Click on the pictures below to see more photos.
We've been slammed but will have an updated post up by the end of the weekend. Sorry for the lapse in between posts.
We had a radio interview with Jefferson County's own KJFF AM 1400 to update the community on the progress and the Dreamfund campaign. We'll have it posted to the media section in the next couple of days.
We needed to finalize some design work for the campaign push and did that today...it should be visible in the next few days.
Carbed each of the 11 kegs that we have prepped for Saturday and started the cold press coffee for the coffee porter.
We also set to a meeting with the structural engineer for Saturday and set meetings with a couple of investors for next week.
Met with a brick mason to discuss the cutting out of the back brick to prepare for the addition (kitchen, bathrooms, etc). You should start seeing activity on the back in the near future.
We met with Chris from Mississippi Mud at the building today to go over the project, coffee, and various thoughts on beer collaborations. It went great and we look forward to collaborating with Mississippi Mud Coffee Roasters for our porter on Saturday as well as future beers that utilize coffee.
I kegged the Brown Ale and the Belgian Wit for Saturday's Oktoberfest. Both tasted great and am looking forward to feedback.
Cleaned kegs for Tuesday and used the previously cleaned kegs to keg off the British Pale Ale and the Coffee Porter.
Filled out insurance applications to get umbrella coverage quotes. We are looking for a company that will cover property, workers comp, liquor liability, etc...the whole 9 yards. Each all is long and detailed which I've gotten used to.
Filed and created a LLC to establish a real estate development company. This is necessary to get a city tax abatement on our current blighted property. We should receive final docs within 30 days.
Took some time to relax in between cleaning kegs...watched Sam Bradford blow out his knee and effectively wipe out what little hope I had. Let's get em next year.