Let the good vibes roll: Saucy Brew Works woos investors and opens two new locations

Exponential growth in the middle of a pandemic (and likely recession)? Taking a new Ohio City beer garden from concept to completion in the span of three weeks? These may seem like Herculean feats, but Saucy Brew Works seems to have found the secret sauce for success.


The new Vibe Garden provides an outdoor option for those who want to enjoy Saucy Brew Works' pizza and beer during the pandemic.This month, Saucy Brew Works opened the doors on two new locations: Vibe Garden (a socially distanced outdoor beer garden on Clinton Avenue offering life-sized beer pong, corn hole, and sand volleyball), and Pinecrest (a 142-seat taproom with an on-site coffeehouse). It’s all part of a “massive expansion phase” that includes three other planned locations in Independence, Detroit, and Columbus, along with a new independent production facility.


Though the timing of the expansion may seem ambitious, co-founder Brent Zimmerman says these projects have been in the pipeline ever since Saucy Brew Works’ founding in 2016 (with the exception of Vibe Garden, which came about during COVID-19). “A lot of people look at what we’re doing and say, ‘All at once?!’ but this is just a well laid-out plan,” he explains.


The new Pinecrest location also includes a coffeehouse serving Saucy Coffee.Part of that plan also includes widening their brand portfolio to include coffee. Appropriately called Saucy Coffee, the new offerings include a single-origin house roast, pour overs, espresso, and a specialty menu of coffees inspired by Saucy beers. Currently, the coffee can be found at the new Pinecrest taproom and coffeehouse, but Zimmerman says it will become a staple across locations.


The new direction is somewhat of a nod to West Coast-based companies like Pizza Port Brewing Company and Modern Times Beer, both of which have expanded into coffee. “There are a few brands we admire that integrated coffee into their model a long time ago, and we’ve modeled our brand after them,” says Zimmerman.


And, as Zimmerman sees it, it’s a synergy that makes perfect business sense: “There are a lot of similarities [between craft beer and craft coffee]similar-sized market, similar margin, a lot of science goes into it, and it takes a talented artist to be able to do correctly.”


As the master plan plays out, Saucy Brew Works is also in an active crowdfunding phase on StartEnginebringing on new investors with the goal of raising $1.07 million. So far, they’ve raised north of $260,000 with 61 days left in the campaign, and Zimmerman is pumped for the possibilities.

“We’ve seen companies like BrewDog be very successful at this, and we were at the right point in time [to take on crowdfunding investors],” says Zimmerman.

Some might expect it to be a tough sell in an era where many restaurants and brewpubs are reporting steep declines in sales, but Zimmerman believes the pandemic could actually be a tipping point for many companies on the verge. "Most companies that go from small to very large [do so] during recessions," says Zimmerman. "Ultimately, I think COVID will be a very short time period in the grand scheme of our lives."

Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast. Along with her work at FreshWater, she is the editor-of-chief of Edible Cleveland and a contributing editor for Destination Cleveland. When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes for Creative Groove, Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.