By TERESA HAMMOND
Business relocation is not uncommon in the City of Oakdale. With prime real estate being scarce in the downtown area, business owners are always on the lookout for just the right spot.
Last Call Brewery owners Brian Chiara and Josh Garcia are no different. As fate and patience would have it, the right spot not only opened up, but has created quite the buzz in the downtown area.
“We opened in Oakdale because we wanted to be Oakdale’s brewery,” Chiara said of the relocation from the industrial 944 Shepard Court, Oakdale location to its current location at 159 N. First Ave. “Now we’re kind of accomplishing it. We worked hard just to get the doors open here. It took a long time for us to find a spot. It took over six months to find this spot.”
With just a few weeks of business under their belt in the new location, it has proved to be a success not just for the brewery, but for the downtown merchants as well.
“I was really worried about losing customers because it’s not the old shop, but I haven’t really seen that,” Chiara said, noting the increase in a whole new clientele, with the tap room no longer being off the beaten path. “People are still supportive and coming in.”
Chiara said since first opening the new North First location March 7 the business has been constant. Tap room hours are currently noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Thursday with extended hours of noon to 10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
“We’re just trying it out,” he said of the days and times. “We want to add Wednesdays for Farmer’s Market. Now we’re figuring out how to meet the demand.”
The earlier than normal closure is also something they felt was needed.
“We’re trying to be cognizant of the other businesses and residences in close proximity to us,” he noted of maintaining a 10 p.m. closing time. “It’s better for our employees. It’s better for our families.”
March 16 was the official grand opening of the relocated Tap Room, as well as an early St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
“It was fantastic. It was the best day we’ve ever had. Great turn out. So much good support,” Chiara said. “The biggest surprise is going to sound cliché, but we were so well received. I did not expect the amount of people that came down to support us. It’s huge. We’re slammed every day down here.”
While the location and size of the Tap Room is drastically different, the homey and family feel remains the same. As a Tap Room offering only Last Call brews, patrons are encouraged to bring in outside food as well as their children and dogs.
The duo continues to produce Last Call beers at the Shepard Court location, using North First strictly as a Tap Room.
“Right now, it’s difficult,” Chiara shared of anticipating the flow of the current tap flow which has doubled from the eight once tapped at Shepard Court, “but when we opened Shephard having eight on tap was difficult. But I think once we get used to our current demand, it’ll be fine. We haven’t had all 16 flowing yet. I think we opened with 15.”
Still employed full time as a Paramedic/EMT (Chiara) and firefighter (Garcia), Chiara gives kudos to the staff they have supporting them for the success of the business side of the brewery.
“We’ve been really blessed with good help. It’s becoming its own animal,” he said.
“Yeah, we’re pretty cool now,” he added jokingly. “We’re not like the guys just playing brewery out there. We’re part of the community. Anything in Oakdale we want to participate in.”
The owner shared they feel encouraged not only by the community, but by the city as well, that the relocation will indeed benefit all involved.
“We want to be a good addition to downtown,” he stated.