February 17, 2022
There is something about having a day off due to eight inches of snow that makes a person pause and reflect on where they are in life and how they got there. Luckily for me (maybe unluckily for you) that is today.
Amy and I actually started this little kombucha business nearly seven years ago but for all intents and purposes we consider early 2016 as the beginning of our actual kombucha journey. In January of that year we had quit our day jobs, set up in a shared commercial kitchen and started figuring out how to make kombucha commercially. In late March of that year our hard work paid off and we were able to get our bottles of Lucky Elixir Aroniaberry, Ginger Lime, Spiced and Citrus Hop on local grocery store shelves.
Many days of brewing, fermenting, kegging, bottling, sweating, cursing and laughing got us through our time in that shared kitchen. Although less than ideal, that environment did allow us to hone our craft and tell the masses what the heck kombucha actually was. In April 2017 we signed a lease on 1443 Swift in North Kansas City and began the process of building out a kombucha brewery. I barely remember that first summer except the fact that scaling up from our little shared kitchen operation proved more difficult than we had thought. Some things we learned from the experience:
1. Build outs are hard
2. We never want to do concrete work again
3. Scaling up is a lot easier said than done.
Fast forward to February 22, 2018 - our first day of operation for the first kombucha taproom in the Kansas City area. The weeks building up to that date nearly drove me to start sniffing glue again but the end result was so worth it. Now we had a home where we could really practice our craft (and tell people what the heck kombucha was). One year later we were celebrating our anniversary with all of the new friends and customers we had made as well as many old ones from our farmers market days. Our taproom was packed and live music from my oldest brother and his wife filled the space. Mine and Amy’s hearts, while pretty exhausted, were full of joy and a great sense of accomplishment.
After a logo and label rebrand we were fortunate enough to be picked up for local grocery store distribution which meant no more visits to the back doors of the local Hen House or Hy-Vee. (This was something we were very ok with.) Switching to cans from bottles in late 2019 proved to be a lucky transition for us as when COVID-19 hit we found customers loved to grab six packs of cans instead of three or four glass bottles. Moving to cans also proved to be beneficial to my heart health as I no longer had to watch a pallet of bottles be lowered down on a dock plate with the prospect of business failure hanging in the balance.
Since kombucha is categorized as a food, when COVID-19 hit we were fortunate enough to be a “necessary business” as could remain open and just operationally limited. No soup, paninis or flights meant we could step back and assess what we really wanted to be when we grew up. We were also fortunate to have just started co-packing a chai tea concentrate for our tea supplier, Hugo Tea, which helped keep the lights on as well. This is why when a new person comes into the taproom the first thing they say is “Wow, it really smells good in here!”
Having started small and methodically meant we were able to remain in business thanks to the support of the many customers, friends and family members who supported us during 2020 and 2021. All of the great people we have met and now call friends have allowed us to try crazy things like Red Hots, pickle juice and coffee (not all together btw) in kombucha. We also launched our hard kombucha line, Lucky Booch, in 2021 with limited sales out of our taproom.
Today we are still alive and kicking. But as they say, the only constant in life is change - and much change is on the horizon for our little kombucha brewery. Next week we will take delivery of a new canning line that will allow us to can what used to take us four days, in four hours. Our Lucky Booch Hard Kombucha is moving toward local distribution and we are going to be making some hard decisions about our long term future in the coming months. We would not be where we are without the support, love and encouragement of so many people. We are so excited to keep this kombucha brewing journey going and to have you all along for the ride. Although hopefully we won’t have to tell as many people what the heck kombucha is anymore.
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