Once popular beer retailer files Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation

Craft brewery distress has become widespread in the U.S. over the past couple of years, as well as in Canada and the U.K. 

In Canada, 10% to 20% of craft breweries in that country are facing closure in 2024, the Canadian Craft Brewers Association CEO Christine Comeau told CBC.

Related: Regional beer brand files Chapter 11 bankruptcy to reorganize

Craft breweries in the U.K. have had a rough couple of years. Data from accountants Price Bailey show that 38 breweries shuttered in all of 2022, but 35 went out of business in the first six months of 2023.

U.S. craft breweries shutter their operations

Difficulties in the U.S. craft beer industry are well known. San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing, a highly regarded independent craft brewery since its founding in 1896, filed for bankruptcy and vanished in summer 2013 after its sale to Japan-based brewer Sapporo Holdings Limited in August 2017 ended up being a disaster for the beloved brewer.

Cherry Hill, N.J.-based Forgotten Boardwalk Brewing filed for Chapter 11 protection on Jan. 12 facing desperate measures after the company’s owner was not allowed to renegotiate its lease with the brewer’s landlord. The brewery will continue to operate and sell off product through its final day of operation on Feb. 29.

Hackensack, N.J.-based craft brewery The Alementary Brewing Co., decided to shut down its operations permanently after a sale of its contract business fell through. The brewing company said in a Jan. 29 Facebook post that its taproom will remain open as it manages its way through the process but did not indicate when the brewer’s final day of operation will be or whether it will file for Chapter 11 or Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidation.

Finally, defunct franchise retail chain Craft Beer Cellar has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy to liquidate its assets, suffering from financial distress and failing to sell its business.

These are some specialty beers that were sold at Craft Beer Cellar in Newton, Mass. (Photo by Dina Rudick/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Boston Globe/Getty Images

Franchise retailer Craft Beer Cellar files Chapter 7 liquidation

The Belmont, Mass., craft beer retail chain and restaurant, filed its petition on Feb. 5 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston listing up to $100,000 in assets and from $100,000 to $1 million in liabilities.

Among bankrupt retailer’s debts is a Nov. 28 agreement for a  judgment against it from the Cambridge District Court in Medford, Mass., ordering it to pay $181,770 from unpaid rent and fees to its landlord, Albert J. Locatelli Realty Trust for its Belmont flagship location. The debtor operated a Craft Beer Cellar bottle shop and German restaurant Trinktisch at a Belmont Center location. 

Craft Beer Cellar first opened in 2010 with instant success, drawing “beer geeks” from across the region, the Belmont Voice reported. The owners later launched a franchise business that had meteoric success initially.

The company built a chain of 33 franchises in 14 states and Washington, D.C., after it started franchising in 2012, according to All USA Franchises. The company, however, was down to four stores at the end of 2023, co-owner Suzanne Schalow reportedly said in December.

The debtor reportedly shocked its clientele in summer 2023 when the company’s owners said that they were seeking a sale of the businesses. Fans of the store and restaurant received the final bad news in November when Craft Beer Cellar and the restaurant revealed they were closing permanently at the end of the year after failing to find a buyer for the company.

The owners blamed effects from the Covid pandemic, a need for more life-work balance and irreconcilable differences with their landlord as reasons for shuttering their businesses.

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