By Theodore Tollefson The downtown Hastings business scene has been booming over the past five years, and one of the most popular new businesses in the downtown scene is Spiral Brewing. Spiral opened …
By Theodore Tollefson
The downtown Hastings business scene has been booming over the past five years, and one of the most popular new businesses in the downtown scene is Spiral Brewing. Spiral opened on April 20, 2018 under the ownership of Amy and Jen Fox, sister’s in-law who had been longtime fans of the craft brewing scene that wanted to open one of their own in their hometown.
“I think it was in 2012 or 2013, we were enjoying some craft beers, and talking about our love of beer and our love of our hometown. It was kind of cheesy that it started in that way. There were no breweries in this area and it really seemed that to us that Hastings would really welcome a brewery and it would do well here,” said Amy Fox on the inspiration for Spiral Brewing’s beginnings.
Many breweries in the twin cities area that have opened up over the past five years have done so in areas that are more commonly used for industrial and commercial purposes rather than a downtown area. Examples of this are Bricksworth in Burnsville and Bang! Brewing in St. Paul. See SPIRAL Page 3 For the Fox’s, having Spiral in downtown Hastings was always an essential part of starting the business.
“We knew right away we wanted to call it Spiral Brewery and we wanted to be in downtown Hastings. So many breweries are located in industrial areas, kind of off the beaten path, and we love our downtown. At the time, it wasn’t quite as vibrant as it is now. We did a lot of research. Then we started working on a business plan and with each step, we kept trying to build momentum with our plan and then it kept gaining further and it started to become a reality,” said Amy Fox.
When the plan came to fruition on the business side for the Fox’s, the next step of the plan was to hire a head brewer. Amy Fox said that she and her husband had tried some decent home brews before, but knew they’d be better off with someone who had gone to brewing school to make the tap selection at Spiral top notch.
Amy Fox shared, “It was always our plan to hire a brewer. We got re-acquainted with a college classmate of ours who had gone through brewing school and had been brewing for ten years on his own at home. We brought him and his wife on as the other owners and they helped us finish the planning and helped us to open in April 2018.”
The past year and half for Spiral Brewing has been challenging as it has been for any other in the hospitality industry. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought it’s challenges and dark days for many businesses. For Spiral, those days were early in the pandemic, but since this last spring, Spiral has seen flushing success once again.
“It’s been a hard last three and a half years to start a small business and especially an expensive one like a brewery where it takes some time to get a foothold, traffic and accounts among other things. We were feeling like we were in a really good place, making good momentum, and then everything shut down in March of 2020. Come April it was really scary, because we weren’t sure what was going to happen or how our business was going to hold up when you can only sell off sale items and sell to liquor stores,” said Amy Fox on the adjustment from a normal business flow to COVID-19 restrictions.
Amy Fox continued, “We had to work really hard and try to pivot and adjust quickly. We managed everything ourselves to try until we could figure out what was going to happen and once we got the PPP loan, we were able to bring employees back and we’ve been full staffed since summer 2020 and have been able to hire more since then.”
The downtown Hastings business scene is home to many businesses that are owned by women. Spiral Brewing is one of the newer additions to that group with the ownership of Amy and Jen Fox and they have found a group of business owners that have helped their growth adjustments in downton Hastings.
“My gosh, it’s really fun to be a part of this group. They have helped as mentors and constant consultants almost like for things that we didn’t know, and they helped to kind of guide us along the way. We really try to work together with other businesses as much as we can, because it’s the sentiment that we all do better when we work together here. We partner a lot with the other bars and restaurants that will do food deals or different things for events. We’ve worked, you know, to do the live music that was in the street this summer and last summer,” said Amy Fox.
Collaboration and partnerships with other businesses in town and breweries in the area are important for the owners of Spiral Brewing. This past summer, Spiral made a collaboration beer with Swinging Bridge Brewing in River Falls, Wisconsin and they are always finding local events to sample beers at such as the downtown Makers Alley events on Thursday’s.
“We often help collaborate on bigger retail events. There was the Makers Alley last weekend and we’re going to do a community Halloween again. The holiday hoopla is our Small Business Saturday event where all different kinds of businesses like bars, restaurants, retail, antiques, coffee, are scattered downtown throughout to help put together like a fun event for the community,” said Amy Fox.
Community growth and engagement is one of the most rewarding parts of the business for the owners of Spiral Brewing. For Amy Fox particular, it’s going into Spiral Brewery every day seeing new and familiar faces enjoying a beer.
“For me, it’s so fun to see people in here that I don’t know enjoying our beer. This is exactly what we were hoping to create and it came to fruition, especially just seeing new and different people in here all the time or hearing that someone came from St. Louis Park or, or drive from the cities to come down here hearing stories about how they discovered us in a liquor store and came down here. Just hearing that is what we wanted to build and it’s happening now. I think that’s my favorite part of it all,” said Amy Fox.