Resetting the bar

Resetting the bar

Total Property - Issue 1 2019

Taverns are being created from unlikely properties as craft beer providers move to extend an edgy flavour not only to their beers, but to the drinking experience provided by their locations.

Bayleys retail sales and leasing agent Sarah Richardson says she’s seeing sustained growth in real estate activity as brewers use diverse properties to create a unique experience and customer engagement with their brands.

“Craft beer brands are seeing a ripple effect with sales growth in supermarkets and other liquor outlets following expansion of their own venues as consumers gain more brand awareness. There’s currently a lot of growth, and there’s no topping-out in sight.”


Fast-growing brewer Good George dances to a different beat in Hamilton’s industrial/manufacturing centre of Frankton, where its brewery is at the heart of the business.

When the team began hunting for their first site six years ago, they were looking for something with personality and history, and the former St George Church at 32a Somerset Street ticked the boxes.

“People said we were crazy to come here and that we’d be better serviced in a residential suburb,” says co-founder Darrel Hadley. “But there’s a lot of hidden businesses here that employ a large number of staff. So for us, the church was the perfect mix of location, character and potential for a brewery, dining hall and pub.”

It also became the foundation of their brand name, Good George.

Theirs was Hamilton’s first craft brewery, and they had little appreciation of the space required to accommodate their rapid growth.

The initial brew house took up just 150m2, with the remaining 350m2 catering to hospitality. Establishing in a manufacturing area proved useful for expansion – the brewery has grown to encompass two adjacent warehouses covering 1,400m2 and housing 17 tanks, chillers, barrel storage, a bottling and labelling plant, packaging, a laboratory, offices and board rooms.

Seven venues have now opened in properties across Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, including former churches, with a core range of award-winning beers and ciders, plus seasonal brews. The company’s eyes are now set firmly on the Auckland market, with a new Good George Craft House opening recently in Mission Bay.


Driven by a love of great beer, Laurence van Dam and Jason Payn opened their first, highly-successful venue, The Beer Spot, over two years ago. Occupying a nondescript 620m2 concrete building that was once a greengrocer’s, tucked behind a small cluster of shops on Auckland’s Northcote Road, it quickly became ‘the local’ for residents and local workers.

The Beer Spot has a minimalist fitout and, with its 40 taps and stainless-steel bar, almost a steampunk feel. It is a warehouse-like space with polished concrete floors and high stud, with a roller door opening to a small, semi-private courtyard. An outdoor food truck is rotated weekly with a changing array of culinary delights, negating the need for a catering kitchen.

Laurence believes their use of the property is re-defining what a bar can be. “The music is low to make space for conversation, relaxation and a shared appreciation of quality beer,” he says.

Simple as it seems, The Beer Spot provides the unique and personalised retail experience customers are looking for. On arrival, they are directed towards a wall listing of all the beers on tap, grouped into styles. They can select their brew of choice or have fun with a tasting paddle before deciding on a preference.

There is customer service aplenty if you want to discover more about your beer, and you can also get takeaways. On occasion, a barber is at hand for a fun way to kill two birds, and at the weekend the bar is often heaving.

With 70 percent of clientele being return customers, it’s clear this is a neighbourhood model that can be replicated.

Laurence and Jason have taken new leases in Auckland, on a light-industrial location in Morningside, and a road-front site in Huapai.

Laurence is eager to see if the business model will replicate to a slightly more upmarket, less grungy style at Huapai. They are also purchasing in Panmure; and Whangaparaoa is on the horizon.

Ultimately, their eyes are set on nationwide franchises and a move into the Australian market.

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