Buff Brew's comeback?
Embattled Houston brewery's CEO vows to reopen amid serious doubts
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Company’s CEO has broken his silence about the events that transpired last week when the embattled brewery had its lease terminated. William McLucas posted a letter to the company's social media pages in which he vowed to reopen the brewery’s facility in Sawyer Yards.
“Despite the circumstances that led to our building closure, we are working quickly to settle our financial commitment with our landlords and return home to our beloved Sawyer Yards taproom and brewery,” McLucas writes. “Furthermore, I am doing everything I can to quickly return our incredible staff to our payroll and continue working to serve our loyal customers and friends.”
McLucas concludes that he hopes to have more information to share “in the days ahead.”
As CultureMap reported last week, Buffalo Bayou, commonly known as Buff Brew, had its lease terminated on Friday, January 26 for non-payment of rent. Bryan Neely, an HR consultant who had been serving as the brewery’s chief of staff, told CultureMap that the business struggled with profitability amidst declining sales of craft beer.
Those declining sales have enmeshed the brewery in a series of legal disputes related to its diminished revenues, according to Harris County court records. On January 4, Frost Bank sued the brewery seeking over $1.6 million to pay off the balance of a loan it made in 2019. The brewery also defaulted on payments to investors through the NextSeed crowdfunding platform, among other entanglements.
Jon Deal, Buff Brew’s landlord at Sawyer Yards, tells CultureMap that he’s open to a conversation with McLucas about the facility, but it has to be “meaningful.” From Deal’s perspective, that would include new investors with the resources to resolve the company's financial issues and have operational experience running a successful brewery.
“We’ll sit down and listen to reasonable conversation,” Deal says. “If they’re able to put together something that’s so compelling, I don’t even know how to say this, that we’d consider letting them have the building back. If I’m betting on it, I’m betting that’s not going to happen.”
Of more immediate concern is what to do with the beer that’s currently in the brewery’s various tanks. Deal says he’s contacted Buff Brew’s attorneys for permission to let the current brewmaster maintain it so that it can eventually be safely consumed, but they have yet to reply. That, and various other issues, will take some time to be fully resolved.
“Given the lawsuit from the bank, they’ve got control of the equipment. I don’t know how that shakes up,” Deal says. “There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. We’re caught up in the middle of it. All we wanted to do was be landlords and collect a check every month.”