In this episode, I’ll have a conversation with Kris Miles, the co-owner of the Winston Ale House and The Winston Brewery, both in North Hobart, Tasmania. When Kris and his wife Caroline’s local pub went up for sale, they couldn’t pass on the opportunity to snap it up. After working in hospitality for many years, the desire to open their own venue could no longer be ignored. Combining Caroline’s yearning for American comfort food with Kris’ vision to open a brewery, the duo embarked on their first venue. They found a name in Winston, their beloved pet dog whose friendly and sociable nature set the tone for what they wanted the venue to become.
The couple purchased the spot and transformed it into an art-deco space, imbuing it with a warm and casual atmosphere. They started by opening the Eatery, offering a fantastic American menu and 12 rotating taps. In 2016 they expanded the offering with the addition of the Winston Brewing Company, allowing Kris to indulge his wildest beer-related fantasies and serve brews that can’t be found elsewhere. At the brewery, Kris experiments with hoppy styles, using Tasmanian hops and barrel-aging techniques.
In 2020, they are opening a dry food and craft bottle shop to their very busy bar and moving the brewery within a few hundred meters with a taproom. With around 13 full-time team members they grew around 20% each year, and sales have been growing steadily in recent years. They have funded the business solely from savings and putting profits back into the business. The bar is always busy and a testament to how one can turn around a dead venue with nothing but a good vision, great team, training, and offering something different to the market. Tune in to hear how sticking to your model, being open and honest about what you want to do and offer the market, and not overthinking things can help you grow your business.
This Cast Covers:
- How Kris and his wife took the plunge to stop working for other people and start the Alehouse and brewery.
- Their North American inspired foods and craft beers from all over the world.
- Working in the business as a couple and how that helps them in separating their personal and business lives.
- Sustaining a 20% growth rate by working a lot of hours to keep the wage cost down and have money to keep reinvesting.
- The foolproof bootstrapping strategy that enabled them to avoid debt and external funding.
- How opening the brewery became the most stressful point in his small business growth journey.
- Enabling the employees to feel invested in the business by educating them and taking them on craft brewery tours.
- The unpredictability of managing the growth of the business and how difficult it was to plan for it.
- Getting better at managing their money and being more financially organized.
- The number one habit Kris thinks a small business owner should develop and maintain.
- How they added people to their team and the lessons they learned.
- Discouraging toxicity among employees to build a great culture.
- Investing in professional development by learning something new every day.
- The detriment of overthinking things to the growth of a small business.
- The power of having a good accountant and the long term value it offers in terms of business growth.
- Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. By Ken Grossman
- Craft Beer and Brewing Podcast
- The Sour Hour
“We just sort of worked really hard and just slowly kept reinvesting into it” – Kris Miles
“Employees are your biggest asset really” – Kris Miles
“It’s very beneficial for a business to know what’s happening with their money” – Kris Miles
Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/