By Joseph Ditzler

The Bulletin

Would-be brewpub owners have an extra two weeks to apply for business incentives from the city of Madras.

The city Redevelopment Commission on Tuesday extended the March 2 deadline to March 16 to accommodate one potential applicant who had a family emergency, said Nick Snead, the Madras community development director, on Monday. The commission in October announced a campaign to recruit a brewpub as one way to drive business traffic downtown. A successful applicant may be eligible for up to $500,000 in city assistance and favorable terms on two parcels of city property in the urban renewal district.

“I talked to about 20 different people about it on the phone and by email,” Snead said Monday.

He said many inquiries involved the potential market for a brewpub in Madras. The city last year spent $8,000 with a Bend firm, Every Idea Marketing, to produce materials that answer some of those questions. A request for proposals the commission put out last year, for example, stated that more than $18 million is spent on food and drink in Madras annually out of $50.5 million spent on tourism in Jefferson County.

Snead said he expected at least two applications by the deadline. He said city staff had authority to extend the deadline without a commission vote.

The city of 6,700 residents is alone among the largest cities in Central Oregon in that it lacks a brewpub, although taverns and restaurants that serve beer and other beverages are located there. The commission decided on a brewpub as an economic development project after success with a convention hotel and movie theater.

Rebecca Keegan, co-owner of Wild Bleu, a craft boutique and taproom on S. U.S. Highway 97 in Madras, said a new brewpub may be a benefit to downtown.

“If more revenue comes back to the city, it’s a positive,” Keegan said.

Wild Bleu, located downtown, received a city grant to improve its facade, she said. The taproom is a recent addition, she said.

“Any type of growth in our community is great,” Keegan said Wednesday. “I wouldn’t want it to take from us, but if you have that walking atmosphere, it’s nice.”

The owners of Wild Wind Station, with 22 beer taps, declined comment Monday. The owner of Rialto Tavern was out of town, the manager there said Wednesday.

Building a small brewery can be costly. Steve Anderson built a small, commercial brewery, Kobold Brewing, in his garage in Bend and expanded that into a taproom with an adjacent food cart in downtown Redmond. He estimated an entrepreneur would face about $250,000 for brewing equipment and its installation, with another $250,000 to build or convert a structure. That’s without the cost of kitchen equipment.

A small, five-barrel production system might serve if the brewer expects to serve the pub only. A larger, more costly system is better if the company aims to distribute its product to a wider area, Anderson said.

The city explicitly prefers a brewpub over a production brewery, according to the city request for proposals. A brewpub, depending on the size of its brewery, could cost upward of $1 million to build, said Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association.

“A half-million would do a lot of help, but it wouldn’t cover the full costs,” he said.

The association counted 1,916 brewpubs in the U.S. in 2016. Brewpubs have better success than restaurants, for example, but determining how many will last is difficult.

“So many have opened in the past few years,” Watson said, “that we haven’t had time to see the failure rate.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7815, jditzler@bendbulletin.com

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