By Sue Stringer, Eliot News
“This town is about collaboration,” says Thad Fisco, owner of Portland Kettle Works and Portland’s craft beer lab, Labrewatory. In 2015, Labrewatory opened in the Lower Albina area and since then it has been the definition of collaboration in every sense of the word.
For the first couple of years, beer was the headliner at this storage facility turned brewery, with brewers from around the city coming together to create beers that are creative and delicious. But that is changing now.
“At the beginning of the year, we added the coffee shop and extended our hours,” says Rachel Wilson, brewery manager and owner of Dawn Patrol Coffee, which operates at Labrewatory in the morning hours from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm.. “Now we get to start doing some new things down here!”
Tamale Boy started providing burritos in the morning starting at 8:30 am and beer can be sold any time of day. “We also have different beer and coffee cocktails and growlers to go,” Rachel adds. She has also taken on distribution, selling kegs of Labrewatory’s beer to different restaurants and bars like Loyal Legion.
Rachel continues, “We really started focusing on community events. We’re trying to bring in a different crowd of people and having the neighborhood have a place to meet. There is even a $1 neighborhood discount for those customers who live or work in the neighborhood.”
In addition, both Labrewatory and Tamale Boy offer classes that are offered to all of the Portland Kettle Works clients. They get all of Labrewatory’s operating procedures for the front of the house, operating procedures for the brewery and get to see financial analysis. It gives the new brewery owners an idea on how to operate their business.
Jaime Soltero, Jr., owner of Tamale Boy, says, “Our philosophy is to always be training and always be evolving and getting people situated. We work with a couple of organizations that come and prep and train here so that they can get [employees] back into the workforce. That helps us also really think about what we’re doing and how we go about things. It’s a humbling experience for sure.”
The collaboration has been good for all three businesses. “When Jaime came in with Tamale Boy our beer sales increased 30%, says Thad. “That’s one thing we teach people: if you don’t have food you’re basically cutting yourself off at the knees. So it’s been a great partnership.”
Jaime agrees, “It actually worked out perfectly. Summers we were packed to the gills and we needed more space. Thad got wind of me and we got started and it’s the perfect marriage”
Rachel adds, “With this space we can have all these people that want to have an event and Labrewatory can offer the beer, Tamale Boy supplies the food and then there is a different kind of profit without having to rent an event space so more of the proceeds can go to the business holding the event.”
But most of all, says Rachel, it’s fun. She is learning about the financial side of a business, managing skills, and is challenged to find new businesses with items that are needing distribution to offer at the taproom, as well as trying to scale cold brew coffee which will be on one of the taps at the brewery.
The classes that are offered by Thad and Jaime help pop-ups which in turn are helping our community become stronger and offer diverse food and beverages to all of the Portland metro.
So if you have an inkling to start a brewery or restaurant, check in with this successful team on North Russell. Collaboration is the name of the game and to sum it up, referring to the old television sit-com, Jaime says, “We’re very tight here. We’re very three’s company.”
Labrewatory is located at 670 N. Russell St. Visit labrewatory.com for more information.