Florence can finally ask, ‘What’Cha Brewing?’

Jerry’s Place becomes first legal, local brewpub

May 5, 2018 — After numerous unsuccessful attempts, Florence will soon have a brewpub to call its very own.

Karl and Janet Engel, owners of Jerry’s Place, have received approval from city, state and federal agencies to begin brewing and serving beer on premises.

The Engels have just celebrated the one year anniversary of their purchase of the popular local pub, located at 88274 Rhododendron Drive, and are pleased to have received the go ahead to start serving their handcrafted brews to the public.

They said they have found the process of gaining approval from the various oversight agencies of the city, state and federal government to brew and serve beer less daunting than anticipated.

“The city doesn’t require any special permits but we did need a federal license and a state license. We started the process in September, working with the feds, and we had to jump through some hoops with the (Alcohol and) Tobacco Trade Bureau, but we received approval in February,” Karl said. “Working with the state was pretty simple because we had already passed our background checks when we bought the bar.”

The Engels originally came to Florence when Karl was hired to manage Spruce Point, a position he held for a couple of years and a position that Janet now occupies.

The couple moved to a house on Rhododendron Drive and enjoyed taking walks along the busy street where Jerry’s is located.

“We were in the habit of walking there for dinner, and we watched the ‘For Sale’ signs go up and then sit idly for months and months,” Karl said. “That’s when Janet started working on me to buy Jerry’s Place.”

The couple spent some time coming up with a long-term strategy for Jerry’s in the eventuality they decided to move ahead with the purchase.

They worked with Oregon Pacific Bank to develop a business plan — and that experience was also easier then anticipated.

“OPB worked really hard to make sure the loan went through. We worked with Mike Webb and he was great, helping us get the paperwork we needed ready and made the whole process a lot easier,” Karl said.

After completing the purchase of Jerry’s Place last spring, the new owners decided they were going to make some cosmetic changes, but retain staff and keep the menu.

The changes included upgrading some aspects of the physical components of the business, while retaining the feel of the original Jerry’s.

“We put a lot of money back into the place since we took over, and it was time to do some minor improvements,” Karl said. “We changed out the table tops, resurfaced the bar and painted the outside of the building.”

The Engels had previous beer brewing experience in Washington, brewing at a small scale, that, while an interesting learning experience, was not financially successful. The hope with this attempt is to increase beer sales by including customer requests into the brews created for the pub.

The first brew to be poured at Jerry’s will be drawn today and will have a name that reflects Karl’s casual attitude regarding brewing.

“‘What’Cha Brewing’ will be unveiled on Saturday afternoon 2 p.m.,” he said. “We will be celebrating Cinco De Mayo with a jalapeño beer. It’s a little spicy but flavorful, and I can’t wait to hear what people think of our first brew.”

The current production volume for Jerry’s is low, compared to other brewpubs across the state, but Karl has plans to expand production in the future if there is demand for his beer,

“Right now, we can do batches of 15 gallons, which is about half a barrel, but we plan on increasing the amount we brew as we get feedback from our customers about what kind of beer they would like to drink in the future,” he said.

The Engels have spent a lot of time and money modifying Jerry’s and they have come up with a couple of slogans to remind them of what they are doing and why they are doing it.

“When we took over Jerry’s, we came up with a couple of by-lines to keep us focused, because we were really stressed at the time,” Karl said. “‘Keep calm and Jerry on,’ and ‘Serving neighbors and traveling friends for a long, long time.’ And they kind of capture our attitude.”

Karl said also shared one story that he thinks of frequently when working at his new business.

“I was talking to a guy one day in Old Town and he said to me, ‘My folks took me to Jerry’s on my 21st birthday for my first beer, so don’t mess it up!’” Karl laughed. “I am working really hard, every day, to make Jerry’s a place for locals and for visitors to enjoy.”

He promises they won’t mess it up.

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