Bill Owens, founder of Buffalo Bill’s Brewing Company, is considered by many to be one of the founding fathers of the U.S. microbrewing renaissance. Opening one of the first brewpubs in the country in 1983, Buffalo Bills Brewery is today the second-oldest surviving brew pub in the nation (the first is Bert Grant’s Brewery Pub in Yakima, WA). In addition to founding the brewpub, he also started two of the beer industries better periodicals, BEER: The Magazine, and The American Brewer. BEER: The Magazine was intended more for beer lovers, aficionados and fanatics, and was written in a flamboyant and colorful style, not dissimilar to Bill’s personality. The American Brewer is more of a trade publication focusing on, as they put it, “The Business of Beer”.
As many brewers do, Bill entered the industry as a homebrewer and began his brewpub with larger batches of his homemade creations. Eventually, he found himself spending increasingly more time writing books and magazines about beer and brewing and decided to sell the brewery to another homebrewer turned professional brewer. Geoff Harries, who had been working with Owens as head brewer at Buffalo Bill’s from 1987 thru 1989, was given the assignment in 1991 of bringing another of Owens’ pubs, located in Fremont, CA, from faltering to salable. For two years he ran the pub and did precisely what was asked of him. But having dreams of starting his own brewery, Harries vowed to never do the same again for someone else’s business. When Buffalo Bill's needed similar assistance, he stuck to his vow and purchased the pub in 1994, complete with the rights to its on-site brewing operation (Owens kept the rights to the bottled beer business).
Harries had much work to do, however. The brewpub really wasn’t regarded as much of a restaurant at the time of purchase, so he drastically revamped the menu, remodeled the interior and launched an ambitious advertising campaign to announce the changes to the area. In less than a year and half, business went from $100 per day to about $3,000, and an additional 30 employees were added to their original pub staff of 2! He has since doubled seating capacity, constructed an outdoor dining patio, and made an entirely new name for the place as a brewpub with great food and fantastic on-site brewed beer. Go Geoff!!
For more information about the brewpub or to make reservations, call (510) 886-9823 or check out their web site at www.buffalobillsbrewery.com.