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Business at Trestle Brewing Company is hopping

A novel approach to outdoor dining

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A 10-person yurt and four 8-person domes have helped to expand Trestle Brewing Company’s outdoor seating capacity amid pandemic social distancing restrictions.

Trestle Brewing Company is a relative newcomer to the Parry Sound waterfront. The independently owned craft brewery opened its doors on June 28, 2018. Its name is a nod to the ionic CPR Trestle bridge that was built in 1908 and spans the Seguin River in downtown Parry Sound. The 4000 sq. ft brewery features a taproom offering a variety of beer brewed year-round on site, as well as other seasonal beers and a menu showcasing exceptional Ontario products.

Owners Chris Pettinger and Dave Fusek credit the Parry Sound Community Business & Development Centre and their partners in the North East Ontario investment Pool (NEOIP) for helping them realize their dream.

“It was an expensive venture, and although we had a lot of capital, we would not have been able to get over the finish line were it not for the Parry Sound Community Business & Development Centre’s assistance,” shared Chris Pettinger, Co-Owner, Trestle Brewing Company.

The NEOIP was created to facilitate the provision of larger loans and is made up of 14 Community Futures Development Corporation partners located in communities throughout North Eastern Ontario. As of February 2021, Pool partners had funded 307 deals since 2001 with a combined value of $98.5 million, leveraging more than $346 million from other sources, aiding in the creation of  approximately 1900 jobs while maintaining an additional 5100.

The Parry Sound Area not-for-profit, business-focused organization is one of 24 Northern Ontario Community Futures Development Corporations funded by FedNor. It offers free business advice and workshops, as well as commercial financing to entrepreneurs and those looking to start a business in its catchment area.

Less than a year after its opening, Trestle Brewing Company expanded, adding a riverside beer garden, effectively doubling the brewery’s seating and production capacity.

“They have created a very popular waterfront destination in a picturesque location,”  commented Bill Spinney, former General Manager, Parry Sound Community Business & Development Centre. “They have worked extremely hard to develop a wide variety of clientele by offering Moms and Tots Thursday lunch, Trivia Night, art lessons and live music inside and out.”

Then along came COVID-19 in March 2020. Undaunted, Pettinger said they implemented a number of innovative changes to not only survive but thrive. In addition to stringent COVID-19 health and safety measures, the gastropub introduced a new reservation and booking system whereby customers could phone in their orders and schedule their pick-up time. Upon arrival, they simply pull up to the door in their vehicle, honk their horn, and identify themselves to get their order. The whole transaction takes less than two minutes.

Another creative change was the addition of a 10-person yurt and four 8-person domes to accommodate outdoor seating while meeting COVID-restrictions, giving new meaning to the term dining out. Pettinger says the yurt and domes, which are heated and can be used year-round, are a big hit with customers.

“Special doors were custom built so servers could pass food and beverages through to customers without having to go into the shelter,” explained Pettinger. “As part of our pandemic pivot, we created a menu that features locally sourced products. Combining fine food with great beer is our recipe for success that keeps customers coming back while supporting Northern Ontario food producers.”

A winning combination

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Trestle Brewing Company customers enjoy delicious food and great beer while gazing upon the spectacular view afforded by the riverside beer garden.

Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, Pettinger says Trestle Brewing Company has more than managed to hold its own in its first few years of business. Two regular offerings, in addition to three seasonal beer, are now being sold in more than 200 LCBOs and in 30 grocery stores across Ontario.  While onsite beer consumption dropped 5 percent in 2020 because of COVID restrictions, online and onsite brewery retail store sales more than compensated by increasing 7 percent. Steady business growth has resulted in more job opportunities in the small community of 6400.

“We increased staffing to 40 in 2020. That’s a combination of full- and part-time positions, as well as seasonal, and we plan to increase staffing levels again in 2021 to 55 employees,” revealed Pettinger.

In January 2021, the company invested in capital equipment with an automation upgrade in its brewhouse. With a brewing capacity of 4000 hectolitres a year, Pettinger says the brewhouse is on track to produce 3300 hectolitres in 2021, up from 2100 hectolitres in 2020.

To find out more about realizing your business dream, contact Parry Sound Community Business & Development Centre at 705-746-4455 or your local Community Futures Development Corporation.

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