Ol’ Republic Brewery is a constant work in progress.
As if unique beers brewed on site and a friendly pub atmosphere where dogs are welcome too weren’t enough, co-owners Jim Harte and Simon Olney keep adding to the depth of the business - one tasty layer at a time.
In the past year, for example, they started bottling and canning their beer at a new production facility in the pub’s parking lot at 124 Argall Way, which is underneath and behind SPD.
Now, the brewery in Nevada City’s Seven Hills Business District is about to pump up its production capacity from 2,000 barrels of beer per year to 10,000, or in laymen’s terms from 470,000 pints of beer to 2.34 million pints.
The shear scope of the expansion has required Harte and Olney to work 12- to 14-hour days, seven days a week to get ready for a May launch. In the course of their labors, they developed a production area design, installed new equipment, did plumbing and then there was perhaps the most difficult task of all – dealing with state and federal compliance requirements.
“I feel like I’ve turned into a compliance representative” Harte said. “When we started the list of deadlines we needed to meet each year for business filings fit on the back of a business card, now the list takes an 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper and then some.”
At the state level, they had to work with the ABC, which requires three licenses to sell beer, and the Department of Health. Federal oversight comes from the TTB, formerly known as the ATF, the excise tax board, certificate of label and a bond for the alcohol taxes. In addition, BMI and ASCAP require a license to play any type of music, live, recorded on TV – you name it.
The good news is despite those hurdles ol’ Republic had gone from four employees to 17 part-timers by the end of 2015, something the owners take pride in.
“We are focusing on efficiency with our new brewing system. We believe in the business model of other companies that pay their staffs well and welcome the buy-in of their production crews,” Harte said. “There could be more people working here with the volume we are about to begin producing, but with efficient systems and streamlined processes, we can pay our people more and experience much less costly turnover and help them succeed in life at the same time. So far we’ve had much success with that strategy.”
As a result of their efforts, Harte and Olney were awarded the coveted Business Persons of the Year award at the annual Chamber Installation Dinner in January.
“Jim and I were so tired. We had been working like crazy and would have welcomed the evening off, but since we committed to going to the dinner we did,” Olney said. “What a surprise and honor to hear our names announced as business persons of the year.”
The two men are also very involved in the planning and sponsorship of the annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic, with plans of becoming more so in the coming years.
When asked how they keep up their cheery dispositions though all the red-tape, long hours and challenges, they look at each other and you can see their business commitment to each other before they answer:
“We still see it; we have the vision for the future of the business and that keeps us going.”
ol’ Republic is open daily from noon to 9 p.m. For more information, call 530-264-7263 or visit olerepublicbrewery.com.