August 20, 2012 by Sarah M
By Nick Halter
The three men hoping to open a brewery and taproom at 25th and Hennepin Avenue South despite struggles with local City Council Member Meg Tuthill have identified their company as Pryes Brewing Company, LLC.
A month ago, Pryes Brewing sent an e-mail to Tuthill’s office asking for help in changing a city ordinance that she authored to restrict off-sale liquor within 300 feet of school property. A voicemail Tuthill left with the Pryes owners has garnered lots of attention, as some say Tuthill was snotty to the prospective business.
In an interview today, Allan Flinn of St. Paul identified himself as the chief financial officer of the company. He also identified Jeremy Pryes as the CEO and Ben Schuster as the chief marketing officer.
Flinn said Pryes is the brewmaster and has been working on recipes in the basement of his South Minneapolis home. Basement and garage brewing is a pretty typical starting place for craft brewers.
Flinn said the Pryes owners want to open at 2528 Hennepin Ave. S. Currently, that’s a vacant storefront that used to house Muddy Paws Cheesecake and has apartments on the second floor. They’re also working on securing financing for their equipment.
Flinn said Pryes is heavy into ales with lots of hops. He said the brewery is looking at making the “Minneapolis IPA” the Pyres flagship and also wants to release a brown ale and a double IPA.
Pryes Brewing’s biggest hurdle is that the owners want to sell growlers, or 64-ounce jugs of beer. By doing so, the Pryes location would be considered an off-sale establishment and face stricter laws than just a taproom. Thus, he e-mailed Tuthill to see if she could help.
Flinn said not being able selling growlers would “put a strain” on their business model. He’d like to have customers in to look at the brewery, serve them pints, and allow them to buy a growler to take home.
Flinn said he believes other Minneapolis City Council members are interested in helping change ordinances to allow Pryes to open at 25th and Hennepin. But if not, Flinn said they would have to consider other options.
“It’s our understanding that there is significant interest from other council members to support the change,” he said. “That’s really kind of where we’re going with it now. In the meantime, simultaneously, depending on what our time horizon is, we may have to start looking at alternative locations, but again, our idea location would be where that is.”
Currently, there are breweries or prospective breweries in every quadrant of the city except for Southwest. Northeast and the North Loop have been particular hot spots for brewing beer.
Flinn said he believes the area surrounding Uptown is craving for a brewery.
“In or near Uptown would be our ideal location,” he said. “We just feel there’s a latent customer demand there that hasn’t been met. We also just feel that for our customers, that’s a central location for them.”
Tuthill, in her voicemail, criticized Pryes for saying that Pryes would help revitalize Uptown. She said the area is already revitalized.
Flinn said he meant no disrespect.
“We didn’t mean to imply that Uptown needed revitalization,” he said. “Our point, and it was probably a poor choice of words to get at it, is that this is something to help liven the area. It’s something new and fresh for Uptown or near the Uptown area, that residents would really get behind and support and enjoy and make that an even better experience to be in Uptown.”
Here’s the text of the e-mail that Flinn sent to Tuthill a month ago.
Dear Councilwoman Tuthill,
Our company was founded this year with the goal of establishing our brewery and taproom within the city of Minneapolis. We are progressing with our plans and are in the process of site selection. The location we are seriously considering is in the Uptown area at 2528 Hennepin Ave S., which we believe would be an optimal location as there are no other microbreweries located in the Uptown area. Being the first microbrewery in the area would be a great fit with our target customers and will help re-vitalize the Uptown area.
However, we have been in contact with Minneapolis License Inspector Greg Buenning and it appears we may have an issue with our proximity to the Jefferson Community School at 1200 W 25th Street, which is across Hennepin Avenue from our proposed location. The on-sale beer sales within our taproom would not be at issue as the Minneapolis zoning ordinance 360.120 requires at least 300 feet from the front entrance, which our location would exceed. But, the off-sale malt beverage growler sales, as governed by the same ordinance, requires 300 feet from the property line. As written, we would not meet this criteria as the school’s playground abuts Hennepin avenue.
What we are proposing, and would appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you, is a change to this ordinance to be consistent with the on-sale distance requirement and/or to allow for on-site brewed malt beverage growler sales to be sold off-sale out of our location outside of school hours (i.e., school hours being 8AM to 3PM, Monday through Friday). Our plan is to only have the taproom open in the afternoon and evening, outside of school hours and in accordance with all applicable MN statutes and Minneapolis ordinances. However, we are unsure of what the process to amend or receive a variance to the ordinance might entail, so we are hoping that we could call you at your convenience to discuss it. Please let us know when you might be available.
We are looking forward to joining the dynamic Uptown community, and we extend to you a standing invitation to come to our brewery and enjoy our beer, regardless of where we eventually locate.
Allan J. Flinn