Success, Round Two

Yes, success!  We made it through our public hearing on Wednesday evening, and the appeal against our conditional use permit was denied.  Big, huge sigh of relief.  Thank you to everyone who showed up to support us, and especially those who spoke on our behalf.  We appreciate it so much, and wouldn’t have been as successful without you.

So glad it’s over though.  Maybe now I can stop having those stress-related stomachaches, and sleep through the night without being waken by panic attacks.  But I doubt it.  At least now we can finally move past this part of the process, and on to the next bureaucratic hurdle.

I mentioned a couple posts back that our TTB (federal) license was approved, and we received it in the mail on Thursday.  Our ABC license has already been applied for, and is currently being processed.  Our building plans were approved by the Health Department a week ago, and were subsequently submitted to Building & Safety for approval.  Once we get that approval from Building & Safety we can pull our building permits and finally start the build-out.  At long last!  We’re so close, I can almost taste the sweet wort running from the mash tun!

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Public Hearing, Round Two

That’s right.  Because it was so much fun the first time, we’re having another public hearing regarding our conditional use permit.

The hearing will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27, 2009 at 4:30 pm at:

Ramona Hall Community Center
4580 North Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90065

We would LOVE to have some supporters there to cheer us on, so please feel free to join us.  As usual, there will be other hearings on that day, so the start time for our hearing may be pushed slightly.  Just be aware of that, and maybe bring a book or magazine to read while we wait.

As many of you already know, our conditional use permit was approved earlier this year, after our original public hearing, but the decision was appealed by a nearby industrial property owner.  His concerns are that our tasting room will create parking problems on the street, and that it will become a hangout for local gangs.  Obviously, if you are reading this blog, you’re probably accuately aware of how unfounded these concerns are.  Unfortunately though we live in a giant city, run by a giant bureaucracy, and we are still subject to all of the outdated processes that the city continues to use.  Joy.

Anyway, we hope to see some of you there tomorrow, to push past this one last, big hurdle on the road to our opening day.  Cheers!

More Good News!

What a great way to start the weekend…Today I found out that our TTB application has been approved!  This means that we now have our federal license to brew beer commercially.  Of course, we still need our state brewer’s license from the ABC, and then the building permits to actually put together our facility, but hey…we’re now one big step closer!

The TTB (or Tax and Trade Bureau) is the arm of the federal government that regulates the manufacturing of alcohol and other sorts of things (it used to be called the ATF…).  The application process was a bit involved, but nowhere near as bad as the application for our Conditional Use Permit.  Basically they ask you a bunch of questions about your proposed operations, such as solid waste and waste water considerations, energy usage, type and extent of security considerations, and a general overview of the operation.  Then they do an extensive background check, including checking on the source of your financing.  I suppose the reason for this is that they want to make sure some criminal isn’t financing your brewery.  The final step is a telephone interview where they go over most of the same questions.  From what I gather, the federal government isn’t too concerned about all the specific details of your operation, but they just want to make sure that you’re paying your taxes, and that none of your beer is stolen.

Another bit of good news is that I submitted our building plans to the Department of Building & Safety today.  I wasn’t able to do this until we had our approval from the Health Department, so it felt good to finally be able to submit it.  Anyway, this will be the final step before we can start the construction phase, so it seems like we can finally see the home stretch!  They said it will take about two weeks for them to complete the plan check, but I think I’ve heard that story a few times before….I’ll keep you all posted when I actually get a response though.

(Finally) Some Good News!

After many long months, our plans were approved by the Health Department today!  Hooray!  It wasn’t just a matter of strolling in with our revised plan, and walking out with an approval though.  The entire approval process took 8 (yes, eight) hours!  I had an appointment with the plan checker at 8 am this morning, and didn’t get our plans stamped until 4 pm.

One of the trickier aspects of our project is that the Health Dept. classified the tasting-room/bar-area, as a “retail food establishment”, and the brewery-area as a “wholesale food establishment”.  This translated to double the work for us, and instead of submitting the typical 3-sets of plans, we had to submit 6-sets (3 for each “side” of the operations).

As we looked over the new plans, the plan checker kept making notes about what we needed to change.  I asked her about making those fixes, and luckily she let me just draw in the changes with a red pen, right then and there on the plans.  This was great, except that I had to make all of those changes on each of the 6-sets of plans.  Just the process of making all those changes on 6-sets of plans took three hours to complete.  And somehow at the end of that process I ended up with little flecks of White-Out all over my face…no idea.

Anyway, that part is over for now, but we’ll have to deal with the Health Department once again for the final inspection before our doors open.  Now it’s on to the Department of Building & Safety to get our building permits.  I’ve already put in the phone calls, so hopefully we’ll have an appointment with them by early next week, and building permits soon after that.

I guess the celebrating will have to be short-lived for now…time to get back to work!

Where to begin…

Sorry folks…I know it has been a long time since my last post updating our progress.  So much has been happening though…where to begin?

LACABAL

First of all I should give a shout out to the first annual LACABAL Craft Beer Festival that took place in Echo Park this past weekend.  It was a very well attended event with lots of great local (when possible) craft beers, food pairings, live music, and special guest speakers.  I was impressed by the turn-out and encouraged to see that there is a real demand for the existence of great craft beer in LA!  I can’t wait to pour our beers for everyone at the event next year.

As far as progress toward opening our doors, things have been a bit less than exciting over the last few weeks.  Back in March, I made a post about our conditional use permit being approved.  Well, 15 days later, at the end of the “appeal period” following the hearing, someone decided to appeal the decision of our approval.  Can you believe it?!  I know…I couldn’t either.

The person appealing is a co-owner of some of the industrial properties on our street, but not an occupant.  In fact this person doesn’t even live in this community, or in LA County!  Honestly, I’m not very worried about our decision being over-turned, but now that the appeal process has begun, we have to go through it and deal with all of the headaches and delays that it involves.

In other news, we are still dealing with the Health Department, and have an appointment to re-submit our plans on May 20th.  I’m hoping everything goes well, and that we can move on to the next step after that.

On a more positive note, we are getting ready to roll out our official website soon, and will also have some merchandise available in the coming weeks.  Yes, it may seem like we’re putting the cart before the horse by releasing merchandise before we release beer, but believe me…every little bit of revenue helps at this point – especially with the added costs of paying for rent while we wait for the appeal process to take its course.

As the old addage goes “Things will get harder before they get easier…”.  But, hang in there folks!  We’re closer now than ever before!