Blue Blood Brewing
Blue Blood Brewing
Developing a business plan narrative to secure funding for a project that combines a brewery, a restaurant and an abandoned cave is a challenge that can benefit tremendously from the expertise of the consultants at NBDC.
That was the case in February 2015 when Brain Podwinski, owner of Blue Blood Brewing, became a client of Zack Zimmerman, associate director of Lincoln’s NBDC office at Southeast Community College.
Podwinski needed a business plan for relocating his current brewery and constructing a restaurant and taproom on property he purchased just south of 10th and High streets in Lincoln. That property is adjacent to Robber’s Cave, a cavern that nearly 150 years ago was used to store beer and which also reportedly served as a hideout for the notorious Jesse James.
“Brian and I worked together on providing a clear picture of his vision and allowing this vision to take shape in terms a funder could understand,” Zimmerman says. “Many lenders view projects such as this through risk, and allowing them to understand the risk associated with this venture allows them to make a decision on moving forward.”
The cave was first put to use by a Lincoln brewery in 1869. Brewery workers spent three years expanding the Dakota sandstone cavern into a 5,600-square-foot warehouse. A tourist attraction after the brewery closed, Robber’s Cave fell victim to vandalism. Its entrance was bulldozed and sealed shut in 2000.
Podwinski is building a 12,000-square-foot building on the site. The Blue Blood brewery operation would take up 9,000 square feet, while the other 3,000 square feet would house a 100-seat taproom and restaurant with a full kitchen.
He also wants to reopen the cave to the public for tours and special events, and to use the space and its constant 55-degree temperature to store barrel-aged beers. He says the Jesse James legend, while never proved, is a natural tie-in to Blue Blood’s “Outlaw” brand of small-batch beers.
“It was great to work with an entrepreneur who has such a fresh idea and vision,” Zimmerman says. “Brian’s vision would also revitalize an area that has a lot of history in Lincoln. Entrepreneurs like Brian see things that not everyone sees.”
Podwinski opened Blue Blood in 2011 and used the services of the NBDC at that time for assistance on his business plan. He aims to open the new operation in April, and credits Zimmerman with helping to further the project.
“Even though we’d been in business for four years, this is a different animal, going into a brand new building and opening a restaurant,” Podwinski says. “Our bank said we should go to Zack and make sure we understood all the details. We’ve been fortunate to be able to utilize his experience.
“NBDC has a lot of clout. I have recommended their services and I will again.”