Las Vegas-Area Startup Helps to Amend Brewpub Licensing

For aspiring business owners in Henderson, Nev., starting a tavern or brewpub can be a financial risk akin to a long night of roulette in nearby Las Vegas. CraftHaus Brewery, however, has successfully worked with the city to amend brewpub licensing in hopes of making that bet a whole lot safer for would-be entrepreneurs.

The two-year process, which CraftHaus co-owner Wyndee Forrest referred to as “a very, very long” one began after Forrest was told acquiring a tavern license would cost $60,000.

“At this point in time and the progression of CraftHaus, there wasn’t any turning back,” she said. “We were still going to open.” It was just going to be more expensive than anticipated.

The problem was the city didn’t differentiate between brewpubs with or without gaming.

In a press release, CraftHaus said that, prior to the amendment “there was only one tavern license for a brewery/taproom business model.”

The lofty $60,000 price tag to open up a brewpub in Henderson, she said, may have encouraged other breweries-in-planning to look elsewhere. CraftHaus is the first brewpub to open in Henderson in more than 17 years and Forrest said gaming was never part of her business model.

But there was another reason why CraftHaus couldn’t acquire a brewery license: the previous permit didn’t allow for a taproom or on-premise sales which, for Forrest, was more important than slot machines.

“I think it’s a given when there’s alcohol there’s gaming,” added Forrest. “We didn’t want to offer that because it’s so prevalent and easy to come by here in our town.”

After working extensively with the city’s licensing board, Forrest and her partners were able to come up with an alternative that covers “all the functions that CraftHaus needs,” including wholesale distribution for on- and off-premise business as well as taproom sales.

The initiation fee for the new license is $10,000, a fraction of the original $60,000 and Forrest said she’s hoping for an April launch.

“Our equipment has been ordered and it’s coming,” she said. “We have jumped off the cliff and there’s no turning back now.”

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