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River Rat Brewery, 1231 Shop Road: 30 December 2023   no comments

Posted at 11:02 pm in closing




I believe that of the local brewpubs, I've only hit Hunter Gatherer and the Old Mill in Lexington (if you don't count Aiken as local), but I would notice the River Rat from time to time driving by and think it might be somewhere to go on a nice evening. As usual, I waited too long.

It appears that market saturation & changes in local laws hastened the closure. As the owner told The Free Times:

You'd think that would've equated to more business at places like River Rat and, in some ways, it did. What started as a production brewery became a brewpub, offering things like trivia and Sunday brunch. But it meant that businesses like Tourville's and ones like Swamp Cabbage, which had built their facilities in less-busy areas were fighting an uphill battle to get customers to their side of town. The idea had been that they'd focus more on production and distribution and less on outfitted taprooms and food offerings.

"The Stone Bill changed everything because it just meant everyone wanted to get into the business, everyone wanted to open up a brewery. Everybody saw it as a cash cow," Tourville said. "You just don't have that revenue stream without being a restaurant and getting people in your door... it's just not a sustainable business plan to be a production brewery and a brewpub."

There have been a lot of changes on Shop Road lately -- we'll have to see what happens to this location next.

(Hat tip to commenter Larry)

Written by ted on December 22nd, 2023

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