There’s no doubt Julian Wright knows restaurants and bars – especially on Mill Avenue in downtown Tempe.
Going back to the days when The Library was ASU students’ favorite hangout and continuing with current well-known venues like La Bocca Urban Pizzeria & Wine Bar and Handlebar (both of which he sold last year), his track record of success is well-established.
So it understandably raised eyebrows this week when he announced he was closing his latest venture – the 10-month-old Pedal Haus Brewery, a massive European-style beer garden – for three months to expand the brewing system and make other changes.
Previous: Pedal Haus to close for 3 months, big changes planned
Many Valley breweries and brewpubs have expanded their operations. None has closed to do so. Well, make that none until Pedal Haus.
Responding to comments on a Facebook posting of the MXSW story, Wright explained his thinking:
‘‘When you see the extent of what we’re doing it might make sense, who knows. I guess time will tell. We were close to the limits of brewery production capacity and didn’t want to spread ourselves thin by opening a second brewing facility. To do any sort of wholesale business next year we needed to add another 60-100 BBLs in tank space. We also wanted to feature the brewery to a larger extent in the space and lay some things out differently to make serving more efficient. I’m sure everyone thinks I’m crazy but I believe it will be best for the long run.’’
Asked about leaving his servers, bartenders, and kitchen staff in the lurch – at the slowest time of the year for the industry – he responded:
‘‘We gave them lots of warning and have helped find other jobs. We’ve also offered to pay them to help with construction-related things. It’s not a great scenario but closing down during peak season isn’t a great alternative either. Most seem pretty OK with it and are excited about the new plan.’’
‘‘With the amount of changes we’re doing, being open during construction wouldn’t have worked and could have led to a much longer renovation period. We looked at that option pretty closely. … I paid my way through college serving and bartending so I can sympathize, believe me.’’
Pedal Haus will close Monday. It’s scheduled to reopen Sept. 26.
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