Fran Caradonna wasn’t looking to open another Schlafly brewpub. But after a call from Trailhead Brewing owner Bob Kirkwood late last year, the CEO changed her mind.
After 25 years of operations, the St. Charles-based brewery will soon change hands.
Late next month or in early March, Trailhead Brewing will reopen as Schlafly Bankside.
“It just fits in sort of naturally with what we’re already doing, and that makes it real cost effective for us,” Caradonna said.
She couldn’t release the sale price but said the deal will have a positive impact on Schafly’s bottom line within the first year.
Trailhead will continue operating through the end of the month, and all current employees have been offered jobs under the new management.
Finding a buyer that would keep up his reputation for quality beer and benefit his staff were important considerations for Kirkwood.
“When considering the possibility of selling Trailhead Brewing Company, my partners and I felt that it was important to find a suitable buyer that would continue to brew quality beer, contribute the same positive experience to the customer and value the current staff,” he said in a statement.
“With these requirements in mind combined with Schlafly’s respected reputation within the brewing and hospitality industries in the St. Louis metro area, we found a perfect fit.”
Caradonna said she plans to keep the Trailhead character, including menu favorites like its wood-fired pizza. She envisions cosmetic changes to include the Schlafly logo, as well as facility updates to the kitchen.
Once up and running, Schlafly Bankside will offer between 12 and 16 beer taps, up from the six Trailhead currently offers. Caradonna said the location will also offer special brews, potentially including one to honor Trailhead.
The new location gives Schlafly an opportunity to expand to St. Charles. It currently operates Schlafly Tap Room in downtown St. Louis and Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood.
“It’s a part of the St. Louis metro where we don’t have a retail presence but where we do have a lot of loyal customers,” Caradonna said.
She said the new name — Schlafly Bankside — is a nod at the brewery’s inspiration.
Bankside is a neighborhood in London along the Thames river, where co-founder Tom Schlafly spent time drinking English ale as a law student at Oxford. When he returned to St. Louis, he set out to make his own beer.
The new location is along the Missouri River.
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