How to Start a Brewery: Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery

You’ll find a way to succeed.  You just have to fight for it

Head Brewer Shares His Experiences Starting a Successful Fine Food and Brewery in San Antonio Texas

Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery opened in 2014 in what was originally Pearl Brewing Company’s brewhouse, built in 1894 and a San Antonio landmark ever since.  The restaurant portion of this brewery-restaurant is helmed by San Antonio Chef Jeff Balfour, who brings a modern take on Texas cross-cultural cuisine.  Head Brewer Les Locke, who discovered homebrewing in the Marines while stationed in Hawaii at the age of 19, recently shared the following thoughts with Portland Kettle Works regarding his experience at Southerleigh.

Southerleigh Brewery Restaurant

At Southerleigh’s Fine Food and Brewery, PKW brewing equipment resides upstairs (brewhouse, fermenters, brite tanks, and more) and a full-service restaurant downstairs

PKW: Where did you find the courage and inspiration to start your fine food and brewery?

SFFB: From my very first moment, it took a lot to give up making great money backed by two master’s degrees to brew for a living. But if you love what you do, and it’s really what you want to do, you’ll find a way to succeed.  You just have to fight for it.

PKW: What was the biggest challenge in starting your fine food and brewery and how did you overcome it?

SFFB: With anything, it’s the unforeseen issues that always arrive.  All you have to do is keep your eyes on the eventual goal, and everything, for the most part, works itself out.  That and a nice gin and tonic helps.

PKW: Now that you’ve gone through the process, what would you do differently?

SFFB: Probably implement a few more time-saving measures.  But for the most part, we foresaw every eventuality.  I’m 95% happy with what we were able to forecast, and it’s followed suit.

PKW: What has brought you the most success in your business?

SFFB: Staying true to our core; focusing on what we want to do and making the best product possible.  Being mindful of the business side of everything is very important.  [This is the] one thing we see now these days that seems to be one of the larger issues on why breweries close their doors.

PKW: What’s your funniest/most memorable moment at the fine food and brewery so far?

SFFB: BA [Brewers Association] dinner.  Opening night.  When a celebrity comes in.  When other brewers I respect come in and love our beer.  The +500 different beers we’ve made in 4 short years.  My team, they have been the absolute best.  These are a few of the many things that motivate us each day.

Southerleigh Brewmaster Les Locke with PKW Brewing Equipment

Les Locke, Southerleigh Head Brewer, putting his PKW brewhouse to work

A recent Yelp review captures the customer experience at Southerleigh Fine Food and Brewery: “The interior is well decorated and rustic looking with all of their brewing equipment exposed on the 2nd floor. The smell of the place is right in your face, seafood and a hint of hops.”  Stop in for a bite and a brew.

How to Start a Brewery:
Advice from successful breweries

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