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Economies of Beer Agglomeration

By summer, Cleveland could have its own "brewery district" when Akronite Andy Tveekrem and Sam McNulty open their new brewery and beer garden across the street from the Great Lakes Brewing Company in Ohio City.
If all goes according to plan, there will be a new microbrewery and beer garden on West 25th Street come June. Tveekrem is joining Sam McNulty to create the Market Beer Garden directly across from McNulty's Bier Markt, just north of the West Side Market. McNulty also owns Bar Cento and Speakeasy, both of which are adjacent to the Bier Markt. McNulty feels that landing Tveekrem for the new brewery project was destiny. 
In talking about this with a few people, several have questioned whether these guys are cannibalizing the brewpub/upscale bar market in Ohio City. I don't think so. If anything, I think the move will be mutually beneficial for everyone in the neighborhood.


(from flickr user temporarySPASTIC)

The Planet Money folks did a great podcast about what happened in New York City when two chess stores open on the same block. Even the owners thought the two stores would fight for business until only one survived, but the move ended up creating a "chess district" that attracted people to the neighborhood that otherwise wouldn't have visited if only one of the stores existed. Ohio City is already a popular destination for beer lovers because of the Great Lakes Brewery and I imagine that beer lovers will have even more reason to go once McNulty and Tveekrem open their new place.

Comments

B. P. Beckley said…
This is a topic I'm quite interested in because I live within walking distance of both places, and I tend to agree that the places aren't going to cannibalize each other as long as the beer and food at both stay pretty good. The question is whether you think there's a fixed number of people that are willing to come to Ohio City at all, or whether adding new places might grow that number. I'm on the side of the possibility of growth (especially if the Plain Dealer keeps mentioning the place!), although, in Cleveland, you can never be sure.
One issue that you could see being a problem would be parking, but I assume the new place is going to have parking behind it, using the West Side Market lot, and thus there shouldn't be a problem there.
As far as beer destinations on W. 25th St. in Ohio City, you shouldn't forget that McNulty's current place, the Bier Markt/Bar Cento is already pretty oriented toward high end beer, although they don't brew any there. It's possible that it's hurt the pub/restaurant business of Great Lakes, but they both seem to be doing okay to me.
Now, another concern might be that another successful place is going to bring too much traffic to and/or change the nature of OC, but that's a separate issue. I'm not too worried about those things, but I don't have to park on the street....
Rob Pitingolo said…
The question is whether you think there's a fixed number of people that are willing to come to Ohio City at all, or whether adding new places might grow that number.

B.P., it seems like every time I'm downtown when a sporting event is occurring, I'm frankly amazed by the number of people who turn out. I usually wonder "who are these people" because they're not the people I see downtown on a daily basis. And the answer is that they're folks who live in the suburbs and will visit the city for special occasions. That leads me to believe two things. 1) there probably is a market for nightlife in Ohio City; they key is willing people to come from the suburbs. 2) given the right incentives, these people will come.

One issue that you could see being a problem would be parking, but I assume the new place is going to have parking behind it, using the West Side Market lot, and thus there shouldn't be a problem there.

It really frustrates me on many levels that Cleveland is a city where driving and parking in the central city is such a big concern to so many people. Nevertheless, the West Side Market already has a very large parking lot that is vacant 3 days per week and every evening. If those spaces can't be recycled for the neighborhood's nightlife, that would be a shame.

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