After months of professional evaluation and fan speculation, Freetail Brewing Co. is happy to announce it has chosen downtown Houston as the site of its second location.
On November 2, 2010, Freetail Founder & CEO Scott Metzger announced the company’s search for a second location. After extensive research and analysis, bolstered by a robust social media campaign by thirty Houstonians, Metzger ultimately decided on approximately 20,000 square feet in a historic building in downtown Houston. Out of respect to the developer, the exact location cannot be named at this time.
“When I started this company I would never have envisioned a Houston location,” said Metzger. “But through the diligent efforts of The Downtown District and the city’s vocal craft beer fans, I’ve begun to fall in love with the city and I am looking forward to many beers there.”
The new location, described as a “flagship” design, spans three floors and includes a company store for customers to buy packaged product, growlers and merchandise in addition to ample restaurant and bar space. Unlike Freetail’s original location, which is primarily one big room with a patio overlooking the Texas hill country, Freetail Houston will feature traditional restaurant seating, private dining space, and a “game room” with pool tables, shuffleboard, darts and numerous televisions.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker hailed the announcement as part of her effort to grow downtown’s appeal. “The development of downtown Houston is important to my administration,” said Parker. “We recognize that building a critical mass of retail is needed for existing and future downtown residents, as well as building an attractive visitor and tourist market. Freetail Brewing Co. will be a welcome addition to the existing mix of eclectic and one-of-a-kind restaurants and watering holes already there.”
The Mayor’s sentiments were echoed by Bob Eury, Executive Director of the Downtown District. “As part of our retail efforts, we specifically targeted Freetail Brewing Co. as a great fit for downtown,” said Eury. “They will create positive synergy with other downtown retailers and when you add a brewpub to our list of newcomers, we are really starting to move the needle in regards to making downtown a thriving, livable community.”
It wasn’t without hesitation that Freetail decided to open a second location 200-miles from their homebase, but Metzger said Houston’s beer culture played a huge role. “A lot of folks talk about the trail of failed brewpubs that litters Houston’s past, but I don’t think a brewpub is something that can’t thrive here. I look at the amazing following that St. Arnold has built over its incredible lifespan and see what’s possible.” The Freetail CEO also added that a grass roots social media campaign played a huge part in the decision. “Organizations like Girls Pint Out, the Foam Rangers, the Bay Area Mashtronauts and Houston beer enthusiasts share a lot of the credit for this decision. They took to Twitter and Facebook and made an effort to show how much they wanted Freetail, and I heard that message loud and clear.”
St. Arnold’s Brock Wagner shared Metzger’s sentiments that Houston is ready for a brewpub. “Houston has a thriving beer scene but oddly no brewpubs. I have told many people that if I could, I would love to open a brewpub here. People will quickly embrace a brewpub downtown and one already known to brew great beers. The success of such a place will dispel the view that there is a brewpub curse in Houston,” said Wagner.
Metzger, who was part of the failed legislative effort to allow brewpubs to sell their products to distributors, added that the facility will be designed with the size and flexibility to eventually accommodate sales to wholesalers. “HB 660 may not have passed the legislature in 2011, but we will be back and reason shall eventually prevail.”
Metzger also noted that while an executed Letter of Intent was in place, some fundraising work remains to be completed before Freetail Houston is a done deal. “We have a significant portion of the financing completed, but need to wrap up the rest within 90 days for this project to move forward. I’m confident that will not be an issue.”
The $4.2 million facility is projected to open in Spring 2012 and create 100 new jobs.
I’m delighted to hear this news and look forward to patronizing the new place. Now no matter what happens with HB602 it’s been a good year for beer in Houston, and who knows, maybe it’ll give a little momentum for the next legislative session when the brewpubs can try again. Beer, TX has more.