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Monday, November 23, 2009

Nothing I love more than being wrong

I love being wrong about something like this, that is.

Bob Batz is reporting on the Post-Gazette website that:

Tom Pastorius and a group of investors have finalized a deal to buy Penn Brewery on the North Side, which he founded. The group plans to resume brewing beer there and reopen the restaurant, which closed in August.
Since the beginning of this year, Penn beers have been brewed at the Lion Brewery in Wilkes-Barre.
On Friday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority approved a $300,000 loan to Mr. Pastorius' group, who'd made buying the business from Birchmere Capital contingent on the property having a new owner, not E&O Partners. (Note: this last line was updated in the online story to clarify the situation, i.e., Pastorius and co. have purchased the business named Penn Brewery; the site is still owned by E&O but it will be sold; the new owner of the building may or may not be Pastorius and his investors. Got all that?)

Bob promises more tomorrow. Until then..."finalized a deal" would imply that the brewery being at Troy Hill & Vinial is set (and that's an update in my story to clarify the situation). That would be a major accomplishment, and would put Penn Brewery -- and Pastorius's group of investors -- right where they ought to be: where Tom started the brewery over 20 years ago. Where it belongs. Cross your fingers, folks, and if you believe in breweries, clap your hands.

Guess I'll have to work on that Penn Brewing entry in the new book after all. Hot damn.

There's more here, now. Thanks to another alert reader!


KC Armstrong said...


sam k said...

God bless you, Tom! It's got to be a challenge doing this after you'd already retired, but what Penn had become; to its patrons, to its city, and to the beer community (an all craft lager operation!) is too important to let go of. Best of luck to you.

And to hell with venture capitalists in the beer business!

Dan said...

Great news but correct me if I'm wrong Pastorius was the person to bring venture capitalists into the business. He sold out for the money, and I don't blame or judge him for that, but he decided who to sell to. The story line of 'what a shame what the businessmen have done to Tom's legacy' ring hollow to me since he sold to businessmen, not brewers.

I hope Penn can get back to where it was since some of those beers rank amongst my favorites Kaiser Pils, Marzen...god I miss Marzen and I've not had a better domestic german wheat beer than Penn's. But with the Hofbrau house open I fear its going to be very tough to do, even though in my mind they are very, very different places.

That said I'll be there soon after he re-opens.

Lew Bryson said...

Fair point, Dan, except that the problem Penn always seemed to have was a lack of the real capital needed to make big moves. Erie had the same problem, and stumbled and fumbled for years...and then found the right combo of venture capitalists and brewers, and is now selling more beer -- and more adventurous beer -- than ever. Same story is playing out at River Horse, just over the Delaware River from me in New Jersey. It can work. Saying Tom "sold out" is a bit rough, too: as I understand it, his family was not interested in staying in the business, so this was his retirement. Guy can't work forever.

Agreed that H-brau makes this a tougher play, but that's been looming for years. Penn's got deep roots that are going to help, and a parking garage right beside them.

Matt said...

Key quote:
“We were in there over the weekend, painting and cleaning out some tanks,” Pastorius said Monday evening. “And I think we’ll be brewing beer within two weeks, maybe as soon as next week.”

Anonymous said...

Tom's sale was a good idea for everyone. The business needed capital and the new investors actually had experience and an interest in brewing. They had the brewery moving in the right direction until they hired the wrong president (he quit) and the landlord almost threw them out. That forced the move to off-site brewing and the beginning of the end. There was also that little recession, not a good time to own a restaurant.

Good luck Tom. I will be there to drink the first new batch!

Dan said...

The recession is not what did in Penn, hell go to H-brau on a Saturday night - no sign of a recession there and they opened DURING the recession. And yes I know there is a big difference in the size of the business but the point remains it wasn't the recession it was the management.

Lew, the sold out comment might have been a little harsh but I didn't mean it be negative. I had heard his family wasn't interested in the business and he wanted to retire and thats completely understandable. My only point was that he sold to the businessmen who quickly took a great brand and seemingly good business straight to hell.

I certainly hope he can get it back to where it was and I'll be there when it opens.