This week we dial in on the 1 year anniversary of 1055 Brewing and Sausage house. Chris Squires, co-owner, tells us the highest and best use of a brewery is when it acts as a cultural center for people to get to know their neighbors.
Each and every Sunday our focus is on Social, Cultural and Economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban Core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between. You get the inside track- right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on DowntownRadio.org- we’re also available on your iPhone or Android using our very own Downtown Radio app.
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Our intro music is by Ryanhood and we exit with Spider Cider
Today is August 4th, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to “Life Along the Streetcar”. We start today with a frozen beach in downtown Tucson.
One year in, a Brewers Success Story One year in, a Brewers Success Story
1055 Brewery and Sausage House will celebrate their 1 year anniversary this upcoming weekend and we sat down with one of the co-founders and owners Chris Squires. He shared the tragedy that brought he and his partner, JP Vyborny together and how 1055 Brewing began on a Patio before becoming the juggernaut it is today.
We learn why they chose to open in Downtown and the higher calling of breweries.
Tom: Good morning Tucson! It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo. And I want to thank you for spending a part of your brunch our with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored rock and roll radio station.
Tom: This week, we dial in on the one-year anniversary of 1055 brewing and Sausage House. We do this by speaking with Chris Squires, a co-owner as he tells us the highest and best use of a brewery is when it acts as a cultural center for people to get to know their neighbors.
Tom: Each and every Sunday, our focus is on social cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban core and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A mountain to the U of A and all stops in between, you get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM streaming on Downtown Radio.org were also available on your iPhone or Android by using our very own Downtown Radio app. Just head over to the Google Play or the I Store and download Downtown Radio Tucson.
Tom: And if you want to get us on the show, you can reach us by email [email protected] you can interact with us on Facebook at Life along the streetcar and follow us on Twitter at streetcar life.
Tom: Well today is August 4th. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to Life along the streetcar and we start Today’s Show with a frozen beach in downtown Tucson. Well, the beach was created at the corner of 5th and Tool back in July of 2014. And it was a part of the celebration that was bringing the streetcar into operations.
Tom: They had lots of sand volleyball courts beach umbrellas the whole works over the years. The sand has been removed and it does now again a vacant lot at the base of the MLK building right behind one North 5th. Well at a cost of $350,000, which Rio Nuevo board members believe they will make back over time from the admission to to skate on this new sheet of ice. Rink is being shipped to Tucson from the Netherlands.
Tom: It was announced just this week that Rio Nuevo and the City of Tucson have collaborated to bring an ice rink to the former spot of the beach. It will be operated by the Tucson Convention Center who also manages the ice for the arena at the TCC that of course has you of a hockey and Tucson roadrunners on it currently, as well as some other Public public groups that skate there.
Tom: Now, the goal is to have all this in place by Thanksgiving but there are some logistical concerns, so they’re not holding their breath for that specific date, but they are expecting it to be an operations for this holiday season and it will roll through run through looks like the end of the year as we hit the New Year. The ice will probably be stored away for other events down the line.
Tom: Now the ice rink is an addition to Downtown Tucson Partnerships efforts to make the downtown a holiday destination location. They’ve created the Desert Nights Holiday Lights celebration a couple of years ago, and that will kick off this year a day after Thanksgiving and Black Friday with a tree lighting ceremony over at Jacome Plaza and will also include later on in December the 25th Annual Parade of Lights.
Tom: We will talk more about all the holiday festivities, but I can let you in on a little secret: think the place to be for New Year’s Eve is going to be in downtown because not only are going to have ice skating in the holiday lights, but it was also recently announced that we’re going to have a bowl bash, a free event for the public following the Nova Home Loans, Arizona Bowl on December 31st. So it seems like New Year’s Eve is going to be hopping downtown.
Tom: Speaking of hops, 10:55 Brewery and Sausage House will celebrate their one-year anniversary this upcoming weekend and we sat down with one of the co-founders and owners Chris Squires. He shared with us the tragedy that brought he and his partner JP Verbony together, how 1055 Brewing began on a patio before becoming this Brewing Juggernaut that it is today. We are going to learn why they chose to be downtown and we’ll get a little philosophical about the higher calling of breweries.
Chris: Sure. I’m Chris Squires. My partner JP and I started 1055 Brewing nearly six and a half years ago. We started as a brewery, a very small Brewery on the south side of town very much what I think you would call a nano brewery or what is commonly referred to as a nanobrewery now did that for four or five years and then started to build our once our brand was built and we had kind of proved our concept went and raise some cash brought some investors into the company and opened up our downtown Flagship location here on Congress Street.
Tom: What got you in JP involved in were you friends before or did you meet over beer? What was your what your history?
Chris: If you go back far enough, I worked at a actually Anthony’s cigar shop here in town when I was a kid just out of high school and I worked with a guy named Matt by Bernie who’s very close friend of mine. Matt sadly passed a few years ago and that’s how I met his family and JP is his older brother.
Chris: And so and JP and I met and bonded over that experience and started spending time together and drinking beer together obviously and then moved on to we realized we both like making beer and so it’s been a few years making beer on my back patio or over at his apartment whatever the case was. Did that for a few years and then realized maybe we can scale it up into something a little bit more meaningful.
Chris: Then when we decided to start the company and start brewing beer professionally. We we wanted to somehow name the company after Matt. He had brought our families together. He was a core part of our story and so decided to if you look at the numbers so his initials mats initials MLV, they’re all Roman numerals. They add up to 1055. And so that felt like a good way to pay tribute to Matt and how he had kind of kick started this adventure for us.
Tom: When you were downtown quite a bit before opening here because you Serving you’re Distributing to a lot of the bars down here already. Correct?
Chris: That’s true. When we started on 44th Street. We were a lot smaller than we are today in terms of production capacity. And also we were kind of tucked away over on 44th Street Palo Verde and Ajo area so we didn’t have the foot traffic that we do now. And so that meant the only way to sell our beer was too we had a small Tap Room we could come down and have a pint but the majority of our business was selling beer to bars and restaurants.
Chris: And so we had had and still have really good relationships with lots of retailers down here. And so that’s been incredibly valuable in terms of understanding how this Market Works which different places move different kinds of beer things like that. So that’s been transformative and US transitioning into running our own on-premise operation.
Tom: So you at some point here decided to take the leap and come downtown what sure what prompted you to have that sort of transition.
Chris: Plan was always to get downtown and to do a larger Brewpub operation, but we didn’t have the experience or the capital to do that. And so it made sense to do to kind of launch a stepping stone. And that’s very much what our first the first version of our business was for a few years.
Chris: We really focused on learning the business building our Network here in town building our brand and really making sure that every drop of beer we put out lived up to our standards because we knew that for the next phase when we’re bringing investors into the company that was very much going to be a decision that was based on our brand in the market that we had built so far.
Chris: It’s no secret to anyone that there’s really exciting Innovative companies doing cool stuff here in town. But when we At the kind of place that we want to open that’s was the most meaningful to us. It seemed downtown is under undergoing this kind of revitalization. I mean JP and I both grew up in Tucson. And so I’ve been coming downtown since I was a kid seeing punk shows over at Scrappies and then walking over to the grill for tater tots at 2:00 in the morning the idea of participating in a meaningful way. That was really exciting. That was really meaningful to us.
Tom: What your one door over from the grill.
Chris: That’s true here. We share a wall now.
Tom: Yeah, there’s a tremendous growth nationally, but here in Tucson of Nano Brewers microbreweries draft beers sure downtown is an example of that. There’s there’s half a dozen within a mile or so radius happened. Are you guys competing? Are you collaborating a little bit of both,
Chris: You know, if you look at the pie that is downtown Tucson that pie is growing pretty rapidly and so new entrance into that Marketplace bring a lot more business than they take away. So when I look at our fellow breweries down here Probably Vita Brewing iron John’s Brewing down the street. And of course Thunder Canyon.
Chris: These are all top-notch operators who I think add a lot more than the scene add a lot more to the brucine down here than they then we compete you know, so it’s it’s certainly is a mixed bag. We we do a lot of work together. We Brew collaborative beers with all of those or I should say have brewed in the past collaborative beers with all those breweries, you know, it’s there’s a pretty strong tradition of working together in our business in the beer business.
Chris: I think that comes from you know, when we look at who am I really taking market share from when I introduce someone into craft beer when I say, hey check out this double IPA, Who Am I who am I taking that customer away from am I taking them away from a small artisanal operator like Pueblo Vita or am I really bring them in from the fold someone who’s only drank Bud light for most of their drinking experience?
Chris: And so the the consumer base that drinks? American light lager is like Bud Miller Coors. That’s a much bigger consumer base than those that are drinking craft beer. And so you kind of have this dynamic in our business where it’s us small guys and there’s many many of us numerically against these big guys that kind of inspires feeling of you know, working together. We can all be a lot more successful or Rising tide kind of floats us all up.
Chris: Yeah, that’s a pretty pretty big part of our business and I think that attracts a certain kind of entrepreneur it’s a really great time to be in our business and downtown in the craft beer business. There’s a lot of fun projects happening!
Tom: Lets talk about the attracting the entrepreneurs and the investors because there there’s been a lot of talk in this so I don’t want to belabor the point but I think it’s interesting to note that you took advantage of a recent change in laws that allow for Equity funding for investment purposes and something that was not allowed for the longest time and that changed and you guys jumped right onboard with that.
Chris: True when when representative Weininger in up in the Phoenix area push that legislation through we were very supportive. The idea that it’s difficult to bring investors into and historically it has been to bring investors into a company if you’re going to start talking about return on investment and you’re going to start talking about selling shares in your company that wanders into Federal Securities Law.
Chris: And so there’s a lot of Regulation associated with that. the regulation that got pushed through the state made that a little bit easier for small companies like ours to talk to investors and not have to go through such a formal IPO kind of process that requires just hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal and accounting fees when really, you know, the scale of that is not what we’re trying to do and not what other small companies are trying to do.
Chris: When that legislation passed in 2017, we were the very first ones to jump on that we were able to talk to potential investors in a way that we would not have been able to do we would not have been able to get on the radio or on TV. Or on the Internet and talk about our investment opportunity of what we were trying to do to grow our company. It is not an exaggeration to say that without that law 1055 brewing and this base would not exist or at the very least. It would have taken years longer for us to get there.
Tom: We’re listening to the interview with Chris Squires. He is the co-founder and one of the owners of 1055 brewing and Sausage House with their Flagship location down there on a congress will be back to that interview in a moment the first part we heard the story of 10:55 how tragedy brought Chris and his partner JP together how they grew the Brewing Company from a hobby on their patio to the business that it is today, and we’ll be back with the second part discussing. First year in business and also some tips if you’re trying to get into the Brew business. Chris will be sharing some of those with us. Well, my name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio.org.
Tom: If you’re just joining us here today on Life along the streetcar. We are interviewing Chris Squires. He is the co-founder of 1055 Brewing they opened a restaurant and Tap Room on Congress about a year ago. They will be celebrating their anniversary this upcoming weekend. So we wanted to catch up with them to see how the first year has gone. So we’ll get back to our interview with Chris Squires of 1055 Brewing.
Chris: It’s been a year. Yeah, he sure has yes, it seemed like more or less at this very moment. It is amazing that a year has gone by at the same time this year has been so transformative for us in some cases. It feels like longer, you know, we coming from the brewery side learning how to operate a restaurant and how to manage that set of metrics is just a brand new business for us.
Tom: We should probably talk a little bit about the kitchen because you’re so sure he was you have a specialty here.
Chris: When JP and I started talking about how to transition. You know, what is the next step look like for us. We wanted a menu that worked well with the beer but did not overshadow. We are very much still a brewery beer is at the core of what we do after talking through dozens of different ideas be kind of landed on this Sausage House this Bavarian style sausage house and our menu has grown beyond that now to it’s worth pointing out we do we have a fantastic chef chef Zach idati downstairs you and I at this moment are sitting up on the mezzanine kind of overlooking the restaurant and overlooking Congress Street, but downstairs underneath us in our kitchen Chef Zack is slaving away and he is We have the benefit of having his experience.
Chris: He’s a classically trained chef and can do all kinds of amazing things that certainly include the sausage piece. But go beyond that to this Sausage House concept, especially with the quality of a guy like Ben Forbes with Forbes Meat Company. I mean just pairs perfectly with the beer.
Chris: This is something JP and I talk about a lot of food miles matter, you know, I mean the idea that been Forbes makes this sausage. He commissaries out of Thunder Canyon Brewery right down the street. And so I mean, it does not get any fresher. Our stuff is made about a hundred yards away the day before you eat it. Typically yeah having a partner like been Forbes has been super meaningful and the same is true for our other suppliers.
Chris: We buy all of our buns for those sausages from Vera’s Bakery over on the east side of town and Don Guerra at Barrio bread does all the bread first our sandwiches as well. That’s very much been the focus quality and locally sourced ingredients has really been meaningful for us. And that sense of community.
Tom: I think you’re seeing more long tables where people are coming together to sit and Oceania might be sitting with strangers and have conversations.
Chris: Yeah, that that was certainly a design element on our I mean that was on purpose the idea of having this community center. We could get deeper into you know, what a brewery can be from a socio-economic perspective. But but I think you know a brewery can be what what people call a third room, you know, and this is a place where people come together and exchange ideas and information about arts and culture and the idea of having long community-oriented tables like that where people are simply forced to sit next to one another and maybe sit next to strangers and have a beer or two which makes it more likely that they’ll strike up a conversation with each other.
Chris: I think that’s a beautiful thing and that is really a brewery at its best and highest use is when Sits and acts as a cultural center for people to get to know their neighbors. And so yeah that was kind of the idea from day one. And so we designed the restaurant and we picked out the furniture with those goals in mind for sure.
Tom: Well, that was day one and you’re approaching day 365 surgery. Yeah. I understand. There’s a big party.
Chris: That’s true. Yep, August 9 10 11. So we’re looking at a couple weeks away now or I guess a week away. It’s a big celebration for us. We’ve been a brewery for several years as we talked about but this is our first year downtown. We’ve got a few beers coming out collaboration beers that we did with Dragoon Brewing here in town and with Borderlands brewing and we’ve got some great partners coming down and doing events with us.
Chris: The Humane Society is going to have some animals here as well. You can come down and see and have a beer and learn a little bit about our desert friends and then we’re having a big industry and I for all of our Brewer Partners on Sunday night to and so yeah, it’s going to be a great weekend parties or events all day every day.
Tom: Where can people get more information which is what your website.
Chris: Yeah, our website pretty easy1055brewing.com or social media is great to we’ve got both on Instagram and Facebook. You can come check us out and see all the cool stuff we’re doing.
Tom: One sort of side note Anthony Bourdain. Oh, yeah wedding day. Yeah, you’ve got a big mural of his what we do. What’s the influence of him on on 1055?
Chris: He played a pretty so JP and I as we were traveling down this this journey making beer together and and dreaming one day about being in the restaurant business. The inspiration of that came from his books. And so Kitchen Confidential and then you know, he wrote several others, but the Kitchen Confidential was the basis for JP and I reading and thinking, man that sounds awful and crazy and like definitely a business that we want to be part of.
Chris: Anthony Bourdain taught us how to Bear witness to other cultures without the lens of our own experience and how to be respectful and and just mindful about how other people live in the world. And so we thought that was pretty important and a big part of our culture here. We were in our construction phase in the summer of 2018 right when Anthony Bourdain past that was a blow for not only us but certainly lots of people but we immediately knew that we wanted to pay homage to him in some way and how he the role he had played in our journey here in so we called her muralist Ashley with modern aquarium. S
Chris: he’s done a ton of our artwork here in the space and asked her if she would put something together and she did and it’s yeah, it’s you can see it walking down Congress. It’s right there. It’s one of our favorite photos of him. So yeah, it’s a good story big part of our journey for sure.
Tom: Someone that might be Contemplating getting into this business that they’ve met their JP and they are actually making beer in their house and they’re thinking about expanding. What are some thoughts for them.
Chris: I think there is always room at the top of any industry the top of any even I mean local Marketplace. So people talk a lot about in my business right now saturation and how it’s it’s hard to break into the beer business. I disagree with that premise strongly. I think there is room in our business for well-executed business plans and well-executed marketing and most importantly well-executed product.
Chris: I mean, if you look at the segment that is craft beer and that consumer base, they are hungry for new breweries that are doing cool stuff and making great beer. I would say ignore. So if you’re asking advice for someone coming into our business ignore everyone who tells you that it’s saturated, but at the same time keep in mind that it is only not saturated if you’re going to come in and execute really really well and put beer at the quality of your beer at the very front of your culture and it’s a very fun of your organization.
Chris: So don’t be dissuaded by the naysayers. They will never go away. There will always be lots of them. But if you are committed to making a great product and you know that you have the expertise or the wherewithal to figure that piece out then jump in and call me and I’ll give you all the free advice that you can handle free advice is of course worth what you pay for it. But yeah, we’re happy to help.
Tom: Well, you’ve been listening to our interview with Chris Squires of 1055 Brewing. He and his partner a champ JP Viborny started this thing about six some years ago and a year ago. They moved downtown with their Taproom and Sausage House like a really good look at a local business that has grown Incorporated other local businesses in their success, and I think the future is very bright for the team at 10:55 Brewing.
Tom: My name is Tom Heath and you’re listening to Life along the streetcar on Downtown Radio, 99.1 FM and always available for streaming on Downtown Radio.org. Well, we’re approaching the end of another episode episode 95. We are getting very close to that triple-digit episode coming up here in a few weeks today.
Tom: We talked about the ice rink that’s coming to downtown Tucson the base of the MLK building right there at 5th and Tool and a little bit about the holiday celebrations that it’s going to tie in with and we’re going to have much more about all of those festivities the Parade of Lights the bulb Ash and the the ice rink as we get closer to Thanksgiving.
Tom: Had a chance to sit down the Chris Squires of 1055 Brewery talk about his start with his partner JP and how they’ve come quite a long way and in six years and are celebrating their anniversary of being downtown their first anniversary of opening the restaurant on Congress Street.
Tom: Next week we’re going to have Some folks in talking about the Mercado the shopping district and housing District that’s west of I-10 is built on a very historical part of Tucson and we’re going to discuss how those things blend it together on next Sunday show that’ll be it 11:30 a.m. And if there’s any topics out there you want us to cover something that we should be exploring a Hidden Gem that you know about that you think everyone should know about, please share it with us. You can get us on our email [email protected] Facebook and also on Twitter at streetcar life.
Tom: I have a nice announcement for you next week a little bit of a tease, but we’ve got a really cool new opportunity coming to Showcase Tucson and I happen to be a part of it. So I’m going to share that with you next Sunday as well. But again, if you have anything you think we should be covering hit us up. We’d love to collaborate and get that information out.
Tom: Well in honor of Chris and JP’s Adventure, we’re going to leave you today with music by Spider Cider.
Tom: This song is “This Adventure.” Hope you have a great week and tune in next Sunday for more Life Along The Street Car.