Last year, with much anticipation and excitement the Somers Point Brewing Company officially opened their doors to the public. The crowd of a few dozen thirsty craft beer fans waited outside prior to the opening. As the doors opened and owners John DiNofrio, Kevin Szagala, Deepak Chauhan, Mike Prata, Bob Biedrzycki and Ed Siegel welcomed the first wave of patrons, the line continued to form outside their New York Avenue location. In less than half hour the space was filled and a line to try the newest craft beverages brewed in the region was forming and continued to flow until the early evening hours.
That was then and this is now. The Somers Point Brewing Company marked their year in business with a little less fanfare thanks to COVID-19, but the enthusiasm and commitment to the craft along with the loyalty of an ever-growing following remains constant.
The partners at SoPoBrewCo are realistic and quick to the year 2020 has been a challenging one for everyone experiencing the effects of a worldwide pandemic. They know collectively, people have lost loved ones to the virus as well as experienced the effects of the shutdown financially but more importantly mentally.
Each partner continues to work hard to make their dream of operating a successful brewery a reality. The team reflected on their first year, during a celebration of sorts, including a commemorative beer launch and a free SoPo Brewing Company anniversary glass that each person ordering the new beer could take home as a keepsake. Being first time business owners, and entering a time of COVID-19, which affected the company’s ability to keep their business model the same, brought the partners both uncertainty and then relief. The response once the brewery could open again was overwhelming. Specifically, the response from the local community and regular customers that continued the same level of support they showed prior to the pandemic. It gave the team a sense of pride to be able to take an idea and build it to reality and see our customers visit our premises to enjoy the craft beer offerings as well as share their feedback and ongoing support.
From the beginning SoPoBrewCo’s emphasis has been in brewing a diverse set of quality beers with no shortcuts. It helps that their brewers (Kevin and Ed) are also partners in the business. They have a vested interest in making sure the brewery meets the high standards on each and every recipe they offer. They make no compromises in the purchase of ingredients as well as the time involved in brewing a particular batch. The other area that is a key focus of the partners at Somers Point Brewing Company is customer service. They know that great beer is important but work with the belief that “Treating your customers with respect as well as be knowledgeable to provide brewery tours as well as discuss the beer offerings, delve into the ingredients, and provide insight as well as recommendations” is critical to success and sustaining a business, especially during these uncertain times.
While the company has limited hours during the week and do not stay open too late, out of respect for their neighbors that surround their Somers Point location, the summer months have enabled SoPoBrewCo to attract visitors as part of the tourism industry and those that chose to spend their vacations and summer at the shore. They are supportive and happy to be a part of local breweries and local cuisines provided by the eateries. The SoPoBrewCo team is also appreciative of the support provided by the local brewery support organizations.
In addition to providing their craft beer selections in the tasting room, they also supply neighboring restaurants certain beers they craft. They supply Josie Kelly’s Public House a number of beers on tap, and also brew their exclusive house beer, “The Josie Kelly’s Irish Red” available on tap only at their restaurant. They also supply craft beer to the Deauville Inn.
Throughout the pandemic, Somers Point Brewing Company was able to conduct take-out orders. It actually has help the company highlight an aspect of our business that is often overlooked. At present, they are able to conduct outdoor seating and their distribution has resumed and continues to grow.
One thing is certain and the SoPoBrewCo partners are quick to point out that at the end of the day, their business is only as strong as our community. If that is the measurement, with the strength and resiliency the businesses and residents of Somers Point has shown during this challenging time, then the future of Somers Point Brewing Company at the first year mark is looking bright and strong.