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Springfield’s newest brewery nears opening day

Food and beverage industry vets team up for Before and After Brewing

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A handful of veterans in the food and beverage scene are collaborating on a new brewery concept that is days away from opening.

June 28 is the scheduled launch for Before and After Brewing LLC at 2940 E. Sunshine St. in the Southern Hills Shopping Center, said Doug Riddle, one of the venture’s four owners. Upon opening, it will be the 10th brewery in Springfield city limits.

Riddle said the owners wanted to bring to visitors a different kind of craft brewery experience in which brews aren’t necessarily the star. Before and After will offer a curated selection of beer, coffee, cocktails, nonalcoholic drinks and food.

“This isn’t like a 300-bottle bar program. This isn’t like every syrup available in your coffee. This is highly honed as each subset has around six menu items,” he said. “We try to provide a couple of things that hit a lot of different flavor thresholds. There’s something for everybody, is a cliche way to put it. But it’s kind of true.”

Riddle teamed up on the concept with Dave Soper and Brent and Marci Sonnemaker, a quartet of owners with years of experience in the restaurant and brewing industries. Among his career experiences with the Before and After team, Riddle co-founded Rountree restaurant Team Taco LLC with Brent Sonnemaker, and he previously worked in brewing with Soper at Mother’s Brewing Co. LLC.

The owners also plan to be the only employees on opening day. While they’ll eventually need additional workers, what those jobs will entail is still being determined, he said.

“We thought it would be easier to get our feet wet and then kind of put people into the fold that fit the vibe and the demands of the business. We’re still figuring that out a little bit,” he said. “So, I don’t want to subject a normal human to it.”

In production
Before and After, which seats 55, typically will have four to six in-house brewed beers on tap, but Riddle expects only three will be available upon opening. The concept is a nanobrewery, he said, which craft beer industry insiders define as brewing no more than three barrels of beer at a time and having limited annual production. He estimated no more than 200 barrels will be produced annually and no growlers or to-go beers will be offered.

“We’re just trying to make beers that we want to drink,” he said. “No silly names – just very straightforward, like pilsner and ale, all descriptive and straight to the point so you can get a beer and go on with your day.”

As for retail or commercial distribution, Riddle said the owners have “zero desire to do that.”

“Been there and done that,” he said about his years working at Mother’s Brewing. “That’s an entirely different animal, and we have no goals to get into that world.”

While declining to disclose startup costs or lease terms with shopping center leasing agent The Wooten Co. LLC, Riddle said the owners are making good on a goal to open Before and After with no debt.

“We’re not taking bank loans and we’re self-funded. We based our budget around that, which was not much,” he said, noting over half of the 6,000 square feet space is dedicated to warehouse and back-of-house operations.

As Springfield’s newest brewery nears opening day, the state experienced a slight uptick in craft breweries last year. According to the Brewers Association, Missouri had 163 breweries in production in 2022, up nearly 4% from 2021, which ranked the state 19th nationally.

Moving on
Todd Frye, co-owner of The Home Brewery, said he’s excited to check out the new brewery. While his home-brewing venture doesn’t count Before and After among its list of clients, it has done business with other local breweries such as 4 by 4 Brewing Co. LLC and Tie & Timber Beer Co. LLC.

It’s a time of transition for Frye and his wife, Sheri, as the couple announced plans in May to close their Ozark store after nearly 25 years of ownership. The Home Brewery is a retailer of supplies for home brewing, winemaking and cheese making.

“We’re not going to stick a hard date to it,” he said, noting they continue to place orders while hoping a deal with a new owner might be reached. “But we are thinking that in August is going to be about the time we’re going to be wrapped up.”

The Fryes bought the business in 1999 from founder Sam Wammack, who retired, according to Springfield Business Journal archives. Wammack started the store in 1984 as a mail-order business.

“It’s such a niche business that the only people that would be able to step into it are people that are in the hobby,” Frye said, adding they didn’t list the business for sale through a broker. “Therefore, our customer base is really the people that may be interested. We have had some interest, and we’re still talking with some people about that.”

Recalling he and his wife stepped into an established business, Frye said he’s hopeful a similar situation may develop before they close the doors for good later this summer. 

“If we can help somebody out by setting them up in business, with a current active customer base and all the supplies and know-how and methods of operation, we’d love to be able to,” he said.

In the plans
While no stranger to business ownership, Riddle said it’s been a long road to open Before and After. He and Soper first discussed the idea of starting their own brewery over a decade ago while working at Mother’s Brewing. While the concept has morphed multiple times since then, the desire to create a neighborhood gathering space with a menu of beer, coffee and food has been a longstanding plan, he said.

“We can offer food, which is a big distinguishing proposition for us,” he said. “The best way I can sum it up is elevated bar food. We’ve got some indulgent items and sharable plates.”

A hummus platter will rotate based on vegetables in season, while sandwiches will include Caribbean pulled pork and smoked turkey with bacon and guacamole. More traditional offerings, such as hot dogs and large pretzels, also are planned, he said. Coffee will be sourced from Springfield-based roaster No Coast Coffee LLC, he added.

“Quite frankly, we just want to make a spot that is a business hangout that we can hang out at and have a coffee and a beer,” Riddle said of the desire to create a neighborhood gathering space. “That’s just how our lives work and is where we’re at.”

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