The Crazy Growth of Good City Brewing
Still new business already expanding operations and production.
“I told them straight up, I was like ‘you guys are crazy’, you know there are people in this industry that have been doing this for like 40 years that would be worried about doing this,” Davies said. “I think what really impressed me was they were really honest guys, who had a real passion for, number one, this neighborhood and this community, and how this business could affect the community and this neighborhood.”
Now those three guys, David Dupee, Dan Katt and Andy Jones are expanding their business, which has yet to see its first birthday. They’re adding an additional 4,000 square feet of space to their brewpub, which currently sits at 6,500 square feet, and increasing production and distribution.
They leased the vacant space south of their brewpub, formerly the home of Crank Daddy’s Bicycles. In it, construction has begun for a banquet room that can seat up to 130 people that they’ve dubbed Good City Hall. The banquet room will comprise the street-fronting portion of the new space and the rest will be used for increased production.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, they have plans for a rooftop patio seating more than 100 patrons, complete with an eight tap-line bar and food service.
Construction is expected to be complete within July, and Dupee said they’ve already begun to take inquiries about bookings for Good City Hall. And fans of this East Side establishment’s craft brews need not worry; production will not cease at any time during the construction.
With the new space, they will have a new prep kitchen expanding their capacity for culinary exploits. (Something Davies is very excited about). It’s also creating storage space and the opportunity for a canning line.
The brew pub is expanding its production and with it, will partner with Beechwood Sales & Service, from New Berlin. Beechwood will handle off-site distribution of the company’s growing sales, adding new markets in Southeastern Wisconsin and Dane County.
“We really work hard in partnering with great brands that are manned by great people,” said John Sheehan, president of Beechwood Sales & Service. “And Good City fit the bill.”
Renderings of the Expansion
In the first six months the brewery was in operation, it sold about 500 barrels of beer, said Jones, Good City’s Brewmaster. They were selling about 70 percent on site and 30 percent off site. “This year we’re seeing those numbers flip flop,” he said.
This year, Good City is aiming to selling about 2,500 barrels, a five-fold increase. To do this, they’re using the new space to make room for two new fermenters, creating a brewing capacity of 10,000 barrels a year.
The company is also using some of the new space for an in-house canning operation, having previously contracted it out. For now, Good City cans their Motto Mosaic Pale Ale. But starting May 1, their national award-winning Reward Double IPA will be available for canned consumption with more brands to come through this summer, Jones said.
Right now there’s three brewers working the barrels. But Jones, a veteran of craft breweries like Lakefront Brewery and Chicago’s Goose Island, will likely be joined by a couple new employees in the brewhouse, said Katt, as production increases.
Katt also said Good City will likely hire another 15-20 employees with the new banquet hall.
Bigger Room, Bigger Kitchen
The banquet hall will service large private parties like weddings on the weekends, but it will also act as an expansion of the tap room on weekends that go unreserved. The room will have a private bar with 8 taps.
More people means more food, so more work for the kitchen. Davies describes himself as a traditional chef. In layman’s terms, the Good City kitchen doesn’t cut any corners, making things like food stocks and sauces in house.
“I’m a real believer that’s where you get quality food from,” said Davies, a young guy, but an old hand around Milwaukee kitchens. He’s worked for the Bartolotta Restaurant Company, he was former executive chef at the Rumpus Room, and a chef at East Side favorites like Hi-Hat and Trocadero.
With a small kitchen, food prep has been reduced to two days a week, Davies said. “If I wanted to buy a whole fish and cut it up in the middle of service probably not such a good idea.” The new kitchen will allow for food prep every day of the week and more time for attention to details like plating and more food.
Good City has already held a few beer dinners, something else the new space can better accommodate. Beer and gastronomy may seem a foreign concept to some, but these events will offer precise pairings for the subtleties of both suds and grub, Davies said.
Davies hails from Adelaide, Australia. That’s wine country. So pairing runs deep. He’s also done his beer homework (recreationally and professionally), having spent a year in the brewhouse at Lakefront.
The expansion of space at Good City is coming together as an outgrowth of this new Milwaukee brew pub’s ethos: more good food matched with more good Milwaukee beer, with more room in a good Milwaukee setting.
Take a certain vegetarian Malaysian curry that Davies has, add one Motto Mosaic Pale Ale and set them against a sunny day on the future patio.
“You sit outside and you drink a glass of that beer and eat one of those curries and it’s just phenomenal,” he said. “It’s hard to even describe why, but it just pairs really well.”