Balancing Systems - Planning a Brewpub

How did Tim, Dan, and I try to strike a balance between the various manufacturing departments within History Class... having a balance of food production, beer production, and serving space.

Background: We're a "smallish" brewpub in Northwest Florida, we're designed like a fast-casual brewpub. Our entire building is 2900sq feet and we have about 2000sq feet of outside space. 

Every business is made up of thousands of decisions. From the littlest decision to large, expensive, hard-to-change decisions that could ruin your business. When we were designing our brew space, kitchen setup, cooler capacity, seating we realized it's about a balance. A balance between kitchen capacity, brewing capacity, and serving/seating capacity. Can you design and create a balance?

Let's start with this...

  • Brewing is a manufacturing business.
  • A restaurant is a manufacturing business.
  • Each manufacturing department of this business can't be designed too large or too small. If your kitchen is too big, you've wasted serving space, if you have a large brewing capacity and small serving area you're forced into distribution to get rid of your beer. If your brewing space is too small, you cannot keep up with the demand of your taproom.

Even within brewing, you have capacity limitations to consider.

  • Brewing Capacity: how often do you want to brew?
  • Fermentation Capacity: will you have empty fermenters?
  • Cellar Capacity: can you store enough beer?
  • Keg Storage: You have to clean, store, move around kegs.
  • Grain Storage: where will you store your grains?

Within our kitchen we have limitations.

  • Food storage/cooler space
  • Food Prep-space
  • Kitchen flow/space for serving. 
  • However, these spaces can be accommodated for by adapting your menu, keeping options limited, forcing time into prep, and menu items that are prepared in advance.

General Business Space (every business has "stuff")

  • Employee lockers: employees need a place to put their things during a shift.
  • Mop closet: mop, napkins, chemicals, brooms, etc.
  • Mail: you'll get mail, where do you put it?
  • Merch storage: to get decent pricing on t-shirts you need to order 100's of them. Where do you put those boxes?
  • Glassware storage: how many glasses do you actually need?

Within the serving capacity, you have limitations to consider.

  • Seating Capacity: can you fit enough people 
  • Point of Sales systems: can you process orders fast enough?
  • The number of employees: do you have enough personnel to pour beers, ring up customers, clean tables, wash glassware, empty trash cans, & keep the bathrooms clean?
  • The number of bathrooms: customers need to pee.

At the end of the day you're guessing, you're guessing at average ticket amounts. You're guessing at how fast tables will turn during peak hours. Will patrons drink 1 average or 2.5 pints on average? You're guessing at the balance, trying to predict expenses and income. Guessing.

I won't proclaim we've figured out how to make the balance, but later I'll also talk about the demand on each of these systems and how close to a balance we're at.

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