Read the Official Press Release HERE.
This Saturday, August 23, the League Brewpub, storefront of the Brewery Incubator, invites you to celebrate it’s last night in business with a huge all-inclusive party including a tasting glass, all you can drink drafts and special rare bottles and snacks throughout the night for just $35 or your donation of choice. Funds raised will go to help with legal fees from the Incubator’s eviction battle. Click below for tickets. Please RSVP on Facebook to help spread the word.
Saturday, 8/23 from 6pm until YOU GO HOME. Get your tickets below OR at the door:
It is with great sadness that I announce the untimely and unexpected demise of the Brewery Incubator and its bar, The League Brewpub, along with the Kitchen Incubator. Last Friday a lawyer walked in as I was cooking steaks for our “Steak and a Bottle Share” event. He took some papers out of his briefcase and told me that I had five days to vacate the premises that I have devoted my entire heart and soul to for the last five years. Shocked and pushing back tears, I tried to deliver the steaks with a smile. “I’m sorry,” I explained, “but I have customers and I cannot discuss this right now. There’s no one else to take care of the customers. It’s just me running everything.” He look surprised at this, muttered something apologetic and left.
The notice seemed like a joke. They claimed rent had been late, but still, they acknowledged it was received and I could prove it was mailed in time. They cited “misuse” of the premises as the reason, a glitch in my lease that can lump together just about anything the landlord wants to have a problem with into an “Event of Default” (legal speak for “our fancy lawyers can kick you out”). My “Events of Default” lumped together are kegs in the hallway in between deliveries and pick-up and the clincher, a game of strip Twister. The notice even cited my Facebook event share post “condoning” the naked games. Indeed, I had agreed to host a naked game night: a completely private event that takes place at bars all over Houston regularly. We covered all the windows and had someone working the door. Only one thing went wrong: an employee of the architectural services firm next door that has access to our hallways was working long after business hours and stumbled up a game of strip Twister in the hall. Whoever this person was, he or she had clearly never seen the naked male body before and took great offense to the incident, crying “public nudity” to the landlord.
I was certain that I could fight this. After all, I have a commercial lease. How can they just kick me out with five days notice? I immersed myself in internet research and frantically met with lawyers, learning my rights and the eviction procedures. “You can fight this,” they assured me, “and you’ll win. But it’s going to cost you. And the landlord can keep doing it again and again until you’re out. And he wants you out.” Essentially, I was faced with an indefinite expensive legal battle, or to abandon my life savings and dream. I’m not sure if that’s a decision anyone can really make. I can’t afford the legal battle. The decision was made for me. It’s that simple.
Sure, my rent is cheap for the neighborhood. When I signed this place no one would go within a mile of here. The neighborhood was nearly abandoned with no other open businesses and rampant crime. I fought crackheads off my steps, got mugged, got my car broken into and faced constant harassment. The space itself was a wreck. It had been a Dimassi’s buffet and was filthy. Every redeeming characteristic of the historic building was covered in vinyl. I demolished all of that and restored the space by hand. I mean, by hand, as in, I got on my knees with an angle grinder wearing my motorcycle helmet and took the floor back to the original concrete. In the process I got scraped, cut and electrocuted (many times) but I believed in the space and my idea and I believed in downtown. I poured my life savings into the project. And when I say life savings I don’t mean a little corporate side nest egg. I mean life. As in, I’d been saving, dreaming of someday opening my own business, since I was a child. When I received a full scholarship to attend college I put my college savings aside to open a business too. All of that is here, sunk into this space at 907 Franklin St. It is a space that has consumed my life for half a decade. And it is no longer mine.
I know that a high-rise developer from Colorado isn’t going to see that. He doesn’t know what the neighborhood or the space was like when I came in here. All he knows is that he can get more money for the space (especially with how I’ve transformed it). I understand that.
Unfortunately, an incubator is not just one business, but home to dozens of small start-ups that go on to form the backbone of our small business community. I can face what is happening to me. The saddest part of all are the dreams that will go unrealized – all of the small businesses that will never be because the incubators are gone. Having to face those that call the incubators home is the worst part of all. I wish I could say that I will rebuild but I honestly don’t know what that would be possible. The infrastructure in the building took my life savings and five years of my life. I can’t get that back because it’s part of the building. There is no selling it or recovering any of that expense. It is simply gone.
I do not know what I will do next or where I will go but I feel confident that the legacy of the incubator will live on. When I moved here from New York and spoke of things like “co-working” and “pop-ups” people looked at me like I was crazy. Now those words are part of the regular vocabulary here and many businesses share their kitchens. The businesses that the Incubator launched are living and breathing. I get to see that. So I’m not sure if Houston really needs me anymore but I’m proud to have played a pivotal role in the movement that has taken place here over these past few years. It has been an honor and I do thank you, Houston. After all, no hard feelings – the guy kicking me out is from out of state.
Now, anybody want to open a brewery incubator somewhere…..?
Please wish me luck,