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Brewing Success: Anderby Brewing works through pandemic challenges to keep growing

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anderby brewing smelts
Photos from Anderby Brewing Facebook Page. Owners Preston and Michell Smelt.

The signs were promising for Peachtree Corners first brewery — Anderby Brewing.
The fledgling operation on Technology Parkway debuted in August of 2019, and the taproom was generating steady revenue. Growlers were heading out the door. A third-party operator provided some canning of their product for package sales, albeit at no resulting profit. Owners Preston and Michell Smelt projected that March of 2020 was to be their first break-even month. COVID-19 had other plans.

Pressures from the pandemic

The taproom closed and didn’t reopen until the Memorial Day weekend as Georgia shut down for a time. Restricted or shut-down food and drink establishments stopped ordering kegs.

Still able to offer to-go sales from their production facility, the couple proved the adage that necessity is the mother of invention. They found a supply of bottles and cranked up equipment that Preston had found at an auction. Some monotonous, not-much-fun work ensued.

“There we were in the back with a counter pressure bottler and it would take us literally all day to do two or three kegs of beer,” said Michell. “No matter how tedious, that’s what we did — and actually, for a while, it was working out pretty well. That’s when we started talking about having a canning line.”

Sales of to-go bottled beer, leftover canned product from a prior run and a $26,000 CARES Act grant got them through to Memorial Day.

Kegs being cleaned for the next round of beer.

Profits in the can

What the couple talked about in those uncertain shutdown days is now a reality — a newly-arrived $50,000 canning and labeling setup. The long-awaited equipment ordered in March showed up at the end of October. It operates at nowhere near the dizzying pace of larger operations that can turn out 100 finished cans of suds a minute, but it does produce four or five cans in 60 seconds time, about two barrels per hour. They are staking a path to profitability on it.

And they say the timing was providential. The manufacturer of the equipment rolled out the smaller-scale model in February of this year; that cost just half to less-than-half the price that a canning line would normally run for smaller startups.

It proved both a blessing and a curse. It gave them the ability to can beer at an affordable price, but so many smaller brewers ordered the smaller model that a months-long backup resulted.

But now they say, “We’re sending a lot of packaged beer out the door and that’s making a huge difference for us.” The 16-ounce four-packs are headed to destinations, including high-profile chain Total Wine, with which they’ve struck a solid partnership deal.

Improved technology means improved taste

Preston said the switch to canning makes sense from any number of standpoints. As he explained, “In the craft beer industry, cans were always looked down on for the longest time because the older canning technology wasn’t great. A lot of people would pick up subtle metallic tastes in the beer, especially with craft beer, which is a little more sensitive because we don’t pasteurize and most of us don’t filter.”

canning machine anderby brewing
Anderby’s very own Wild Goose Filling canning line.

The canning companies have improved their technology and a lot of the old issues have gone by the wayside, he said. On the purely economic side of the equation, Preston said that for what it would cost them to buy 6,000 cans, they might only get 2,000 bottles — a significant price point difference.

The co-owners said they have 19 beers on tap, and already eight or nine of them have been pumped into cans with all to follow eventually. The canning approach is part of an industrywide trend, they explained.

Growing the brand

As to what consumers browsing beer coolers can expect to find in those Anderby-labeled cans, well, that’s undergoing an evolution.

“When we first started, I was really trying to dabble in a number of different styles, trying to figure out what our niche should be,” said Preston. After gauging the marketplace and working with a consultant, they’ve narrowed their focus to three areas: hazy IPAs, heavy imperial stouts and fruity sours.

Anderby Stout

He said those three varieties account for 60% to 70% of craft beer sales nationally, and they also do well from a package sales standpoint. Their beer list will be changing to reflect that emphasis in the coming weeks.

The Smelts said they decided on only rotating offerings, an approach that some other craft brewers eschew because “the key thing for offering core beers is you have to make a lot of them, and we can’t.” Preston said the core approach doesn’t work without a heavy restaurant presence.

The ever-changing aspect of their offerings should appeal to those venturing into their taproom with the notion that repeat customers who see an unchanging beer list will eventually quit showing up, according to Preston. The couple added that on occasion, however, what has been a signature beer may well make a comeback, like their popular “Get off My Lawn” IPA.

Future plans

Anderby has the capacity to brew 2,500 barrels a year, and they’re now at a rate of under a thousand. So far, they’ve not hiked production, but they anticipate increased demand that will boost them to that level — with the resulting distribution cash flow bringing them into the black.

“Once we get maxed out and can’t really do any more on our current system, then we’ll start to talk about expansion,” said Preston. “We have some penciled-in plans on what the next round would look like.”

They said a bigger footprint would include additional fermentation tanks, more staff and consideration of a higher-volume canning line. One thing it would not include is a relocation. The co-owners said they could quadruple their current production capacity without having to move.

“That was one of the benefits of moving into this building — to have the room — because the last thing we wanted to do was get into a spot, grow and then have to find more space,” said Michell. “Here [in a large facility] we can grow and not have to find more space in a couple of years.”

Whatever shape future plans might take, they credit the City of Peachtree Corners with helping to make the setting-up-shop process in their current location and configuration a positive experience by facilitating necessary changes in the city zoning code to allow for operation of a production brewery.

From Anderby Brewing Instagram

“Other nearby cities we talked to seemed encouraging, but then they didn’t actually do anything, “Preston reported.

As to what niche they may grow into in metro Atlanta, he said, “If we get to the point where we are the destination brewer for someone coming into the Northeast OTP area, we’ll be happy.”

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VyStar Credit Union Continues Growth in Georgia with the Opening of a Peachtree Corners Branch

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A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for May 29, 2024

VyStar Credit Union has to announced that its Peachtree Corners location is now open at 5125 Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners. This is VyStar’s fifth full-service branch in Metro Atlanta and joins branches in Stockbridge, Suwanee, Smyrna and Marietta.

In support of its purpose to “Do Good,” VyStar partners with non-profit organizations across the communities it serves. VyStar will make a $5,000 donation to the Rainbow Village to celebrate the grand opening of the Peachtree Corners branch at the ribbon cutting event in late May.

“VyStar’s first branch in Gwinnett will provide residents and business owners with better banking options, including free checking, access to early direct deposit, great rates, financial wellness education through VyStar’s Financial Fitness initiative, and unbelievable member-centric service that only a credit union can provide,” said VyStar EVP/Chief Operations Officer Chad Meadows.

The Peachtree Corners branch features VyStar’s digital-forward design, which enhances how employees connect with members. This includes interactive touchscreen kiosks that provide financial tools and allow members to quickly explore the latest products, services and rates. 

Lobby and drive-thru hours for the Peachtree Corners branch are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

VyStar continues to work with local organizations to build up the communities it serves. In Metro Atlanta, that includes supporting the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Frontline Housing Inc., H.E.R.O. For Children and many others.

“Each time VyStar opens a new branch, it is another opportunity for us to support our purpose to Do Good. With eight full-service branches now in Georgia and our first Contact Center in Metro Atlanta, VyStar is able to provide residents and area businesses with exceptional financial products along with personalized service,” said VyStar SVP/Georgia Market President Janean Armstrong.

VyStar has seven additional locations in Georgia: Marietta, Smyrna, Suwanee, Stockbridge, Brunswick, Savannah and Thomasville, with plans to open branches in Pooler, Kingsland and Peachtree City over the next year.

The credit union is also expanding its services in Florida with a third branch in Tallahassee scheduled to open in May followed by a branch opening in the Lake Nona area in August.

To celebrate the grand opening, the community is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 29, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. Learn more about the Peachtree Corners branch.

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Kendra Scott Opens New Store At The Forum

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Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott is celebrating the opening of its newest store in Peachtree Corners the weekend of May 10 at The Forum.

Upon opening, the 2,263 square foot store will display Kendra Scott’s current collections. The store will also showcase the brand’s unique Color Bar, offering shoppers an interactive experience to create customized jewelry in minutes and leave with it in hand.

Worn by celebrities including Hailey Bieber, Camila Cabello, Mindy Kaling, Zendaya and Kelly Clarkson, Kendra Scott’s collections are known for their custom-created stone shapes, genuine materials and design details.

This will be Kendra Scott’s first store in Gwinnett County, which joins five other retail locations in Georgia.

The brand will continue to show its support for the community through partnerships with non-profits and local businesses. For the grand opening weekend, Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners will host various non-profits for Kendra Gives Back events, donating a percentage of proceeds directly back to the causes.

Kendra Scott hosts more than 10,000 Kendra Gives Back events in retail stores annually and looks forward to establishing relationships and connecting with the Gwinnett County community.

“We’re excited to continue introducing the community to new brands, bites and events at The Forum as part of our vision to create downtown Peachtree Corners. Kendra Scott will be a welcome addition, providing our guests a top-notch experience to shop its unique offerings in person,” said Charlotte Hinton, The Forum marketing manager.

Doors will open on Friday, May 10, at 10 a.m. with celebrations throughout the weekend, including giveback events, gifts with purchase and giveaways. RSVP for more details here.

Upcoming events:

  • Friday, May 10 from 10-12 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with The Forum for a VIP event. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special jewelry gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy refreshments from Giulia, The Italian Bakery.
  • Friday, May 10 from 5-7 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with the Norcross High School Cheer Team and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase* Guests can also receive a custom embroidered bow from Quiet Hours Embroidery with purchase.
  • Saturday, May 11 from 4-6 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with Spectrum Autism Support Group and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy complimentary cotton candy from Wonder Soirée with every purchase.
  • Sunday, May 12 from 12-2 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is celebrating the Community of Motherhood. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also receive a complimentary Mother’s Day bouquet of flowers from Nancy’s Flower Truck.

*One per person while supplies last.

Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is located at 5155 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 710 in Peachtree Corners at The Forum. For companywide updates and product details, follow @kendrascott on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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BRACK: Peachtree Corners to lose Peterbrooke Chocolatier

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Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson.
Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson. Photo provided.

Peachtree Corners will soon lose one of its most iconic, popular and tasty businesses.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier, run by Geoffrey Wilson and Scott Gottuso, has been told by Peachtree Forum landlords, North American Properties and Nuveen Real Estate, that its lease will not be renewed. The last day of business will be July 25.

Meanwhile, Peachtree Forum is getting several new stores. They include Kendra Scott, Sucre, and The NOW Massage. Previously announced were Alloy Personal Training, Cookie Fix, Gallery Anderson Smith, Giulia, Lovesac, Nando’s Peri-Peri and Stretchlab. Wilson adds: “We are not in their big picture.”

Wilson has operated Peterbrooke at the Peachtree Forum for 14 years and Gottuso has been there nine years. They have made the chocolatier profitable and doubled sales. Wilson says: “We turned it around through community involvement and made relationships. We worked with the schools, gave donations, did a lot in the community, and made a difference. We produce most everything we sell in the shop, so it’s labor intensive. We make European-style chocolate treats from scratch from the very best ingredients, package it, make gift baskets, and also sell a lot of gelato.”

Key items include truffles, hand-made caramels, cherry cordials, chocolate-covered cookies and pretzels and strawberries hand-dipped in their own blend of chocolates. (They are all good!) One of Wilson’s and Gottuso’s most iconic products is chocolate popcorn. Once you try it, regular popcorn is tasteless. “We sell a lot of it.” Wilson adds: “Gelato sales have carried us in the summertime, since there are not many chocolate holidays in the summer.”

Peterbrooke now has five employees, and would like to have 10, but it is difficult to hire people with the skills in chocolatiering. A key part of its business is corporate companies, such as Delta Air Lines and Capital Insight. The Peachtree Corners’ Peterbrooke has corporate customers as far away as Cleveland, Ohio.

The operators were surprised when the Forum owners did not renew its five year lease. “The big decisions were made in Charlotte or Cincinnati, not locally,” Wilson feels. “We were no longer in their big picture. They want new and glitzy, shiny, fancy and trendy.”

The operators plan to start their own chocolate company, to be called “Scoffrey,” and initially sell online, plus have pop-up locations during holidays, and possibly have a booth in other merchants’ stores on occasions.

“Whatever we do would look different. We might rent a space somewhere close by so that people can still have the good chocolate experience with us, but we won’t have a regular audience walking by.”

Another element: the price of chocolate futures has spiked this year, with a bad crop production year. Wilson says: “That is key to our business and a huge cost increase. That doesn’t help.”

Wilson adds that the forced closing of the Peterbrooke location “is something like the death of a friend. But you go to the funeral and to the wake, and in six months or a year, It won’t be so bad.”

Have a comment?  Send to: elliott@elliottbrack

Written by Elliott Brack

This material is presented with permission from Elliott Brack’s GwinnettForum, an online site published Tuesdays and Fridays. To become better informed about Gwinnett, subscribe (at no cost) at GwinnettForum

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