CLOSURE MARKS END OF FAMILY'S DREAM

May 07, 2000 11:00 pm

By Fred Obee

and Scott Graves

Triplicate staff writers

The owners of Jefferson State Brewery started out to make a quality product, but in the end it wasnt enough.

When the brewery closes for good at the end of business today, it will mark the end one familys hard-fought dream and the hopes of their biggest fans their 27 employees.

Employees were notified Wednesday of the brewerys impending closure, said Lisa Chandler, who has been general manager of the brewery almost since it opened two years ago.

Its been very hard on the staff. Theres been a lot of tears, Chandler said. Its been like a family here, and now were disbanding.

Chandler said the brewerys owners Bob and Fran Adkins, and their daughters Danny Adkins and Janine Jacobson worked hard to keep the business open.

Theyve done more in two years than most people could do in four, she said. They really put their hearts and souls into this business.

The Adkins said the restaurant portion of the business hit projections in its first year and drew people from up and down the coast.

The brewery, while winning raves in the world of microbreweries for its fine beers, however, never did make a profit.

It could have, though, the Adkins said, but there just was not enough capital to buy bottles and the makings for beer to supply a growing demand.

The family recently secured a contact with Trader Joes, a large chain which by itself might have put the brewery over the top.

But the Adkins said there just wasnt enough money to deliver the product.

Its a classic case of under capitalization, Bob Adkins said.

Weve done so much, but you can only string it along so far, added Danny.

The family sought investors to try to keep the business afloat, but all were scared away by the huge debt.

It scares people away, Fran said. The venture capitalists arent venturing.

The Adkins said all of their suppliers will be paid, and the debt to establish the business is secured by personal property. The family still has a sandwich shop in Arcata that, for the last year, has supported the brewery.

We never took a salary out of the brewery, Danny said.

Although they do not regret making the effort, the Adkins said they are sorry their employees will lose their jobs and their regular customers will have to find someplace else to go.

We have one customer who has all our beer labels tattooed on his arm, Fran said. And his wife has the porter on her calf.

Another regular customer and wine maker who came here each year to fish the Smith River used to sit down with a grilled cheese sandwich and a $130 bottle of wine he couldnt get anywhere else.

The Adkins said they were proud of their extensive wine list and their growing reputation as a brewery.

Bob said he was thankful to the community for all the support the brewery has received.

We have only good things to say, he said. The community has done nothing less than support us.

For the 27 employees who work there, though, today is their last day.

Its sad and emotional for us, Bob said. Telling the employees was the real hard part.

The Adkins said they are hopeful someone will buy the brewery and restaurant and reopen it.

A band is scheduled to play at the brewery tonight. It will be a chance to thank customers and say goodbye to employees, the Adkins said.

We really want it to be a farewell, Fran said. Our customers will be mad if they dont get a chance to go in on the last day.

We never took a salary out of the brewery, Danny said.

Although they do not regret making the effort, the Adkins said they are sorry their employees will lose their jobs and their regular customers will have to find someplace else to go.

We have one customer who has all our beer labels tattooed on his arm, Fran said. And his wife has the porter on her calf.

Another regular customer and wine maker who came here each year to fish the Smith River used to sit down with a grilled cheese sandwich and a $130 bottle of wine he couldnt get anywhere else.

The Adkins said they were proud of their extensive wine list and their growing reputation as a brewery.

Bob said he was thankful to the community for all the support the brewery has received.

We have only good things to say, he said. The community has done nothing less than support us.

For the 27 employees who work there, though, today is their last day.

Its sad and emotional for us, Bob said. Telling the employees was the real hard part.

The Adkins said they are hopeful someone will buy the brewery and restaurant and reopen it.

A band is scheduled to play at the brewery tonight. It will be a chance to thank customers and say goodbye to employees, the Adkins said.

We really want it to be a farewell, Fran said. Our customers will be mad if they dont get a chance to go in on the last day.