Wynwood Brewing Company is growing its family. The Miami brewery announced the addition of Rob Barker as taproom general manager. Barker, who has extensive experience in the hospitality industry, including seven years as GM at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, will be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the taproom.
Wynwood Brewing founder Luis G. Brignoni says the decision to add Barker to the team was a necessary next step. Brignoni, who managed the taproom as part of his numerous duties, learned he needed to have a person dedicated to the ever-expanding role. "We really didn't have a central figure, and the taproom is a very important component of our brewery."
Brignoni says he wanted to free himself for other tasks. "We've done a pretty decent job, and there's so much I would like to see improved. There are a lot of people who want to do events at the brewery, and that's very time-consuming. Our Vine Club membership is at an all-time high. The timing was just right for me to focus on other areas."
Brignoni's search led him outside the small South Florida brewery community. "Rob has the same skill set, but in a different setting and a different vibe. We had to hire someone who had
Barker is equally excited about his new role, which he assumed this month. "My commitment is to contribute to the success of Wynwood Brewing by enhancing the quality of personnel and customer service."
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With Barker on board, Brignoni now has time to focus on the bigger picture. The brewery recently began bottling beers for distribution and is already at peak output. "We're having a hard time meeting demand. We're making more beer than we ever have. At the same time, our inventory is lower than it's ever been." Brignoni says that shortage sometimes means not accepting new customers in order to provide their loyal clientele with fresh beer. Though he acknowledges it's a good problem to have, "it's still a problem. We don't want to say no to anyone who wants our beer."
The solution is adding another facility. Brignoni leaked the news on Facebook with the announcement of Barker's hiring: "I’m also very excited to have him help us in the planning of our second location for 2017.”
Pressed for more information, the brewery owner says that he hasn't even found a location and that announcing anything like timelines is premature. "We're planning. I don't have anything concrete at the moment. More news may be coming in the next six months." Brignoni doesn't say whether a second facility will open in Wynwood, but he does say he certainly wants to keep all of his business in Miami.
The Wynwood Brewing founder looks back to the days before the company opened. "My dad and I would have bank days, where we would just make the rounds trying to secure financing. Most loan officers said they weren't interested in startups." Two years later, the brewery is thriving, with its beers winning national awards, including a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival. "It's been a good two years. My team has worked really hard, and they keep doing an excellent job. It's still humbling to be where we are."