Building Business, One Beer at a Time

Spending a fair amount of time with the people who run bars and nightclubs across the country, I’ve realized there are two types of operators: quick hitters and marathoners.

Dave Wollner of Willimantic Brewing Company in Willimantic, Conn., is my kind of operator in that he’s a marathoner. As the 2010 Nightclub & Bar Beer Bar of the Year, the brewpub earned rave reviews from the judges for its brew quality, spotless tap system and welcoming ways. After spending some time with Dave for our cover shoot (see story, page 10), I realized he’s not only running a great beer bar but a great bar, one with staying power.

Dave Wollner and Donna Hood Crecca

In 1997, Wollner renovated an abandoned post office, preserving original features like the tin ceiling and granite flooring. It took a while for the microbrewery to catch on with locals, but his patience won out, and it’s now packed with families, retirees and everything in between, who enjoy his rotation of seasonal brews and foods. Most importantly, he taps into the local scene — his staff builds a Fourth of July parade float — and promos tied to community events keep cheeks in seats. To celebrate the NCB Award, he brewed a Vegas Victory Ale, threw a party to a packed house and donated the proceeds to a local charity.

Recently, he purchased the building that houses Willimantic Brewing. Wollner is in it for the long haul, and his continued sales growth proves that while a quick fix to jump start traffic and profits is helpful, it’s really the long-term thinking that keeps guests, and dollars, coming through the doors year after year.
What kind of operator are you, and what kind of bar are you running? Hopefully one that will be here for years to come! To that end, Nightclub & Bar and will continue to deliver ideas and tips to keep you pouring profits for the long term.

See you at the bar!


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