If you build a better taproom (and serve good beer), beer lovers will beat a path to your door. Beer tastes have shifted and small breweries everywhere are scrambling to satisfy the thirsty masses as fast as they can. A couple of guys felt the Tulsa market was missing a craft brewery where people can enjoy a craft beer, in an awesome taproom, while feeling like part of the family. If the environment is as much a part of the business model as the beer, the focus has to be beyond “just” opening up a brewery.
Welltown Brewing, LLC, was founded by Jeremy Diamond and Paul Whitham in the Tulsa Arts District. While the craft brewing scene in Tulsa has been growing strong for a while, revisions to Oklahoma’s alcohol laws opened up new opportunities for brewers. While the breweries that were first to the scene had to focus on getting their beer out to as many other people as possible; the new laws allow a business model that can focus on motivating customers to come to the taproom, creating a stronger impact and a better customer relationship.
That model requires finding the right building, in the right part of town, and building it out in just the right way. The Welltown guys found the right spot, at the corner of Archer and Cheyenne in the Tulsa Arts District. A brick building that dates back to the time when Tulsa was the “Oil Capital of the World.” Making it their home has required extensive renovations including reinforcing the floor, a whole new roof, two new staircases, and reusing all the old bricks and windows they could. Add in the upstairs taproom and a rooftop patio, and Mr. Diamond thinks they’ve hit the mark.
As renovations on their new home got underway, a banner on the building proudly proclaimed “there will be beer.” That beer is coming after a lot of hard work according to Mr. Diamond, “when you have a corporate job it’s clock in, clock out. Being an entrepreneur, you are always working.” However, when asked what advice he would offer to someone thinking about starting their own company he suggests you “just do. You won’t ever know if you are built for it until you dabble in it.”
Be sure to check out their active Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/welltownbrewing/
What was an unexpected challenge you face as an entrepreneur?
As the boss, it gets very lonely. The buck stops at you and sometimes you have no one else to turn to. If your dream is a great success or a great failure, it’s on you.
Going into it, what did you feel was the biggest risk?
Build out costs. Because we want to deliver the best taproom experience, we need a great location and an awesome buildout. That takes money, but its going to be worth it when people see what we have put together.
What’s next for Welltown Brewing, LLC?
Continue to spread the word. We hope to show off our new home before our grand opening. When we are brewing full swing it’s simply focus on beer sales at the taproom. When we get the following at the taproom we want, then we will worry about wider distribution.