With ten stores now open and eight more in planning, Craft Beer Cellar is coming to Portland. Co-founder Suzanne Schalow confirms that a lease has been signed by Jorgen Persson and Pietro Di Luzio for a franchise to open at 111 Commercial Street, a location that formerly housed Port Bean Cafe. This is just steps away from where Old Port Spirits and Cigars recently replaced Downeast Beverage.
Schalow founded the popular retail operation with Kate Baker in Belmont, MA in 2010, and the two have rapidly franchised the brand throughout Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Craft Beer Cellar even has outposts in Missouri and Florida. For those interested in opening their own, the Franchise Info section of the website explains more: "Craft Beer Cellar™ is on a quest to continue contributing to the advancement of the small but mighty, Craft Beer Industry — an industry that has more than doubled in sales in the past 10 years!" A look at the website's blog or the various company Facebook pages shows how active they are, hosting regular tastings, events, and classes meant to further employee and customer education.
A Boston Globe piece from last December about Craft Beer Cellar's planned nationwide growth also dug into some of the motivation behind the business: "Despite early challenges, the owners – with a staff of about 30 people and growing – remain devoted to spreading their motto of 'Don't drink crap beer.' Schalow talks in great detail about educating her staff and the public ('If you can't buy good beer from me, just buy good beer,' she says), and several staffers eagerly share their 'a-ha' moments of talking dazed and confused customers 'down from that scary place' and converting them into regulars."
Schalow, after conducting day one of a nine day workshop covering beer styles for Boston-area beer industry members, shed additional light on the upcoming addition to Portland's beer scene.
On the Craft Beer Cellar brand: "The most important thing for The Brand in all of this is that we take our time, find the right people, and, of course, the right location. And I think we've done that."
On Portland: "An awesome beer city and one that we've had our eyes on for quite some time. We couldn't be more thrilled to be in the Old Port district."
On the owners of Craft Beer Cellar Portland: "The two owners of the shop, Persson and Di Luzio, are brothers who are no strangers to craft beer, having spent the past few years in the Boston area, and before that, having lived and traveled to many countries in Europe."
On the estimated opening date: "We look to have the shop open by mid-August at the latest, but much of this will be determined by the current renovation process, so we'll show patience and support to the construction crew that's renovating the building!"
· Craft Beer Cellar [Website, Facebook, Twitter]
· "Craft Beer Cellar Plans Nationwide Growth" [Press Herald]
· All Beer Here! Coverage [-EME-]
[Photo: Craft Beer Cellar Portland, FB]