Brewing Up a Biz: Peg Leg’s
No, this isn’t spam. It’s actually the prodigal-blogger signing on from way up north. I haven’t headed into the hills on a vision quest and grown a bushy beard.
As you may recall, my entrepreneurial vision was that of commercial brewery start-up (or perhaps, “up-start”) and it still is. Boy, I have so much to say and so little space (and time) in which to say it. I feel like I’m living Plato’s allegory of the Cave or Logan’s Run (I’ve been outside and it’s real!). Business started as Peg Leg’s restaurant here in Prince Rupert on July 1 to much fanfare. Our friends and future friends from town packed the place. Then we tore it all up. See, it had been a restaurant before us (we kept the name Peg Leg’s), but it needed a severe face lift. We did in three days what Restaurant Makeover does in seven. Got the place right down to the original old plank flooring (which was a gem of a discovery!), spread some paint, guzzled a few beers, and ignored all urge to sleep.
Our first day with the new menu, new staff, and new look was July 5th. On that day, with patrons packed to the rafters, one of our line cooks went to the bathroom and didn’t return. Seriously. He walked out the back door. That’s when I learned the pressure-cooker method of making dough and cutting fish; and a bit about HR. I thought I had made a huge mistake. My life, at that moment, was ruined.
It has gotten much better, however. And through our love/hate relationship with the start-up, I know it is good. While sitting there last night, in fact, nursing a craft ale and listening to a talented artist do his rendition of “Hurt” on our mini stage, I looked around, noticed patrons truly enjoying our creation. I smiled. The summer has seen both Irena (my very patient better half) and I working to discover the “fine balance” between restaurant life, “other job” life, and real life. It’s not been perfect, nor easy, but luckily, we set out expecting that; and that’s the glue. If there’s one tidbit of experience I can share with someone travelling down this crazy road, it’s this: set your expectations to INCLUDE imperfection and hiccups — it’s the necessary buffer in the avoidance of failure.
On my down time, I have been busy pumping sparge to mash tun to kettle on my little Sabco pilot brewery, getting the feel for it. Soon, from barley, there will be goodness. Unfortunately, another thing I have learned is that restaurants are expensive. As I continue to whittle down my start-up expenses, I’m squirrelling away funds for the brewing side of things. Brewing has always been my “stage B” plan all along. And like you, I’m chomping at the bit. Shockingly, however, I feel I’m relatively on track (for a two-beer roll-out in 2010).
Incidentally, congratulations to the boys “down the road” at Plan B Brewing in Smithers. They recently had their grand opening. A couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to have shared a couple of pot stoppers of their brown. Nicely done fellas. Expect a visit soon.
Cheers from the north,
~ Rod Daigle, Triple Island Brewing Company