Brewforia takes business beyond Incline Village with new catering operation at Lake Tahoe
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — When Rick Boyd started Brewforia Beer Market in Boise, Idaho, in 2008 it functioned primarily as an online beer shipping company, available to people across 31 states.
It evolved into a brick-and-mortar establishment with three separate locations over the years before Boyd eventually decided to sell his interest and move the business to Incline Village.
For roughly 18 months, Brewforia has operated along the North Shore. Customers are able to choose from 500 beers in house and a rotating selection of 12 draft beers, along with food in the 49-seat restaurant.
But now, Brewforia is slowly starting to pop up outside of Incline Village ever since Boyd decided to expand the business model to include catering, something Boyd has always wanted to do.
The move has allowed him to bring Brewforia to El Dorado County on the South Shore, with details being finalized to expand into Nevada and Placer counties as well.
“It’s just a natural fit for us and our approach to food,” he said. “Eventually we will be able to cater the entire area from Truckee to South Lake Tahoe.”
On a recent Thursday, Boyd stood outside South Lake Tahoe Brewing Co., over a flattop grill, churning out Philly Cheesesteak orders. He had a server from Brewforia helping with customers, but he otherwise made the food himself.
“It’s been pretty slow the past few Thursdays, but it’s starting to pick up,” Boyd said as he prepared several orders.
The on-site catering is a new concept for Brewforia and allows Boyd to do something he is not able to do in the restaurant in Incline Village.
“We can do large scale events for up to 500 people, giving us the ability to do just about anything off site. We’ve done pick-up-style catering since we opened. But, only recently have we really launched our on-site catering,” he said. “It does free us up in some respects because it gives us the chance to really stretch our legs and strut our stuff.”
Boyd said he has experienced some roadblocks when trying to secure the proper permits from Washoe County and the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, hindering his ability to offer certain foods and amenities in the restaurant.
“The fire marshal has been steadily restricting our ability to function over the last 18 months with various standards and the county has really dragged its feet,” he said. “We’re not the only ones who are struggling with Washoe County either. Numerous restaurants are fighting with them over things like this.”
Boyd said he’s spent several thousand dollars within the last year trying to comply with various directives, adding “even though they get changed once we comply.”
Ryan Sommers, fire chief of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, said the district’s role is to protect the community by enforcing the fire code.
“That is what this comes down to,” he said. “We are absolutely not in the business to put anyone out of business. We have the stance to keep our community safe and we want the patrons who come in to be safe.”
Sommers said it has been a combination of a few things that have delayed the process for Brewforia, including measures associated with cooking and restaurant capacity.
“If there was a fire or an accident we want to make sure people could get out safely and we want to make sure the appliances are installed to operate to the manufacturers specifications,” he said.
Sarah Tone, business facilitator with Washoe County, disputed Boyd’s claim that the county has “dragged its feet.” She said the business licensing process can be complicated because it is routed through various agencies and departments, including health, public safety and building.
“It’s mostly confusion,” she said. “But, they (Brewforia) have finished the business license process. When they initiated the business license process, one appliance wasn’t approved, so we just walked that through on their behalf to see what it would take to get this through the process.”
Tone said there were also initially some appliances installed that were not permitted. Additionally, a member of the public reached out to the county expressing concerns with smoke from the kitchen filling the building.
“That has been resolved now,” she said. “We did a multi-agency approach to have them meet fire, building and health codes so we protect public’s safety. We don’t want smoke going up into the neighboring businesses so we addressed those and worked through that and it is now complete on the business license end. We have done a lot of foot work for them.”
Boyd was obviously frustrated with the permitting process, especially considering he has several other concepts for the restaurant space to expand his business. He said he was working on creating a wine bar next to the restaurant, but with the restrictions on cooking and the kitchen he had to back off of that.
“We are now looking at possibly putting a barbecue concept in,” he said. “We have a number of different concepts we are looking to develop in the region and have made offers on spaces here in town. But, nothing has came through yet. We are just still working on finding ways to bring more food to the area.
“North Tahoe really, really needs more restaurants. We would like to bring something new and unique and special to town.”
Angelique McNaughton is a freelance writer living in South Lake Tahoe. Find her online at AngeliqueMcnaughton.com.