Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Big BadWolf: The journey in selecting a second location

The expansion is in order and we have settled on a large space on the east side of Manassas City scheduled to open in Spring 2015. View the video. This time last year, we began the search for the new space and for one reason or another, it did not work out. There were several options and ideas thrown about. One of the particular jurisdictions we had considered was Prince William County, a place we grew up in and knew well. We almost picked a neat little spot in Woodbridge, which the biggest obstacle were the laws pertaining to breweries in the zone we had our eyes on. I guess "pertaining to" would be incorrect; the issue was the zone would not allow our particular business model to work. We wanted to place a brewery (just like little BadWolf) in a B-2 space. Sadly, we did not have time to wait for the process in working with zoning officials and the county to change the legislation. It was disappointing but at the same time, we had another idea. Why not pave a path for other breweries to make it easier for them to open in the B-1, B-2 zones?

So, we proposed that they refine and update their code to help other breweries to open up in the future. Jeremy was asked to speak with several local municipalities to clarify our own business practices and current zoning in the City of Manassas. This talk, along with suggestions to the Prince William Zoning Board about ordinances pertaining to breweries is now showing results! They are moving forward with a new proposal to make it legal for a brewery like our little BadWolf model to open up in commercially zoned areas within Prince William County. This is very exciting news!!

Currently, in Prince William County a brewery can operate in the M-1 and M/T districts, those are the industrial sectors. That leaves the potential new operation with just a few districts to choose from on the zoning map.  However, one could also open a brew pub/restaurant in a B-2 zone but NOT a "brewery" according to the County's definition. What about a small brewery operation that's no different than a little coffee shop? The only way it would work is if you have food served under the restaurant definition, then the brewing operation may now meet the proper criteria. Oddly, the Virginia SB 604 in effect as of July 2012 allows for breweries to operate in Virginia to serve pints on site to customers without food. It only makes sense to trickle this down to the county municipality and update the codes.

In the Prince William Zoning Ordinance breweries and brew pubs are defined as:

Brewery and bottling facility shall mean an industrial operation involving the brewing and bottling of beverages for local, regional, or national distribution and which may involve routine truck traffic. Brewery and bottling operations may be permitted in restaurants as an accessory use when integrated into the restaurant operations, with limited distribution and wholesaling permitted. 

Restaurant: A retail food service establishment with table service (order placement and delivery) provided to patrons; also including cafeterias with table attendants; carry-out trade, if any, shall be a limited portion of the facility; traditional sit-down dinner establishments with waiter/waitress service

We will keep you posted when the new ordinances are approved and of course provide more details about the expansion as we move forward. Stay tuned. We hope that Prince William County will soon become a little brewery mecca and serious tourist destination! This will boost the economy in the county and provide an opportunity for even more jobs and lots and lots of amazing tasty, beer!


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