Beef and beer: Claremonters brew up a new business
by Michael Ceraso | www.claremont-courier.com
Steve Sabicer and Andy Dale’s bromance started 10 years ago when the two met at a Rotary Club event. Steve’s plan for the evening was to relax until his wife nudged him to go.
“I kind of stalked Andy,” said Mr. Sabicer, laughing over the phone with Mr. Dale in their interview with the COURIER.
The two instantly bonded over their shared experiences as small business owners.
Andy owns Last Name Brewing in Upland. Steve is the owner of the Electric City Butcher in Santa Ana. Both men call Claremont home.
Their relationship quickly moved from acquaintances greeting one another at community events to meeting two or three times a month at Saca’s Mediterranean Cuisine. It’s there the two bragged about their families. Shared local gossip. And grew closer.
This was part of a test-run for a professional partnership they were beginning to sketch out.
Then COVID-19 shocked the world and California. A statewide lockdown ensued. Mr. Dale saw his beer distribution sales disappear overnight. Mr. Sabicer’s butchery was reeling from cancelled wholesale deliveries. Supply chains were closing down. Their revenue streams dried up. Employees were laid off. The dominos kept falling, leaving the two entrepreneurs to reimagine their businesses.
They understood the federal stimulus package passed into law by Congress last month would take time to get off the ground. Banking institutions right now are overwhelmed by small-business applicants looking for federally-guaranteed loans.
The two saw it as an opportunity to speed up the process of collaboration if they were going to figure out a way to hold on financially in uncertain times.
Their years of friendship and mutual trust made brainstorming easy. Their love of meeting new challenges and trying new things led to their newest business venture: Dale Bros. Market. A brewery that serves sealed and ready for cooking meat. Eggs. And Beer.
Yup, you read that right—a brewery that serves beer and hand cut meat.
“There’s an opportunity to rethink everything and try new things during COVID-19,” said Mr. Sabicer. “We are channeling that energy right now to reinvent our businesses and keep as many people as possible employed.”
The two knew the idea could take off when mainstay grocery stores across the city and in neighboring communities were unable to keep eggs in stock due to high demand. Customers were looking for alternative sources for the popular breakfast item.
The city of Claremont’s environmentally friendly record and eco-conscious residents felt like the perfect fit for Mr. Sabicer’s cut meats. His meat comes from family-owned small farms who rely on regenerative agricultural practices, like targeted grazing, agroforestry, and biological crop inputs to increase biodiversity. Mr. Sabicer delivers meat from his Santa Ana location to Last Name Brewing.
The Last Name Brewing refrigerators are now a shared space with bottles and cans of beers nestled alongside a display box filled with fresh cuts of beef, pork and turkey.
“What’s really cool is we changed our tasting room to display the meat,” said Mr. Dale, who sees this as an opportunity to bring people together when social distancing has everyone physically apart. “We keep hearing great feedback and discovering new things and that’s what this is all about.”
When customers practicing social distancing come in, they are usually looking for the popular Pomona Queen lager. They often walk out with meat cuts for the family.
Mr. Dale and Mr. Sabicer heard from customers they have a strong need to reward dogs for being trapped indoors. The two found a solution—pork skin and liver doggy treats. That’s right, this neighborhood market offers everything.
Most of the orders are placed online and can be scheduled for pick-up or delivery. Customers can go to the website to see real-time inventory.
The impact on customer behavior after the lockdown is a huge question mark. Will customers embrace this new model?
Mr. Sabicer and Mr. Dale are betting on it.
To place an order, visit https://www.lastnamebrewing.com/dalebrosmarket.