Prancing Pony Brewery is making a move to central Adelaide as it opens a pop-up venue in the East End precinct in Adelaide’s CBD.
Aiming to open before Christmas, the new venue on Rundle Street will have 16 beers on tap and will also offer food, a selection of local wines, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages.
“We’ve always wanted to bring Prancing Pony to the city because we’ve got quite a few families in the city and a lot of them say, ‘I would make this my local hang out if it was in the city,’” said CEO Corinna Steeb.
Initially the team didn’t aim to find a new venue, they first wanted to build upon its wholesale market, but due to COVID, the focus shifted.
“One of the things that’s changed dramatically is that every state supports their own breweries first and foremost, and so they should. So we found it quite challenging getting our beers listed interstate to the extent we had planned and if you can’t grow your wholesale market, then you may as well grow your retail market,” explained Steeb.
“A year ago we realised just how strong and significant the local market is. Of course, it’s going to help us build a brand being in such a central location where you’ve got thousands of people going up and down the street. It will give us amazing exposure to the brand not just locally, but nationally as well.”
For Prancing Pony, the decision to move to the city is one that will aim to grow the craft beer industry as a whole, according to Steeb.
“For us, it’s always been about getting out of the beer bubble. When I’m talking about the beer bubble, I’m talking about the dedicated craft beer drinkers. They are already on board.”
“We want to see people move from mainstream beer drinking to craft beer drinking. The only way for us to grow the industry is to get more people understanding that when they’re supporting an independent brewery, they’re supporting people.”
The Rundle venue was first brought to Prancing Pony’s attention through the introduction of a friend who is friend’s with the owners, who had bought the location. Having the option to use the site permanently was an attractive proposition.
“The building is undergoing some renovations and the building won’t be fully ready until about June or July 2022. And we thought, ‘you know what, why don’t we trial a pop-up in the city and see if it works’,” Steeb said.
The journey to opening a venue is not a quick and simple one, so instead of opting for a more long-term venture, they decided to trial a pop-up venue first to test the waters.
“The quickest and easiest way to get into the location was a pop-up because as you can imagine there are a lot of licensing requirements happening when you open up a new venue.
“So we really won’t have to go through the rigamarole of a completely fixed fit-out at this point in time and we can see how this location works for us and if it works, perfect.”
The aim of the Rundle venue will be to offer the experience of the Prancing Pony brewery while also offering things like degustation dinners, mock-up brews and training for staff. The team also wants to work with other local surrounding businesses to create a trail-like experience of hopping between places.
Providing this type of experience won’t be without its challenges though, as Steeb explained.
“For any new venue it [the challenge] is to build a solid customer base and a local following. I think if you just rely on walk-in traffic, you’re not going to get there,” she said.
“So for us the challenge is to make the city venue feel and look like the venue up here [in Totness]. It has a very eclectic look. We always source second-hand furniture and we do them up, we paint them and we repurpose them. Other than the kitchen equipment, there’s pretty much nothing that’s new in our venues.
“Obviously, moving into a chic precinct it’s going to be interesting to see how this concept flies.”
While the pop-up will focus on hospitality, the team won’t leave its Totness venue behind.
“Our Adelaide Hills venue will always be our kingdom and I have to stress that really strongly because this is where we have the local support. This is where people know us. This is the location that they love to come to.
“It will simply be us being able to bring what we’ve been doing up here into town because we think we’ve got quite a unique concept for a craft brewery from a point of where we position ourselves.”
The Prancing Pony team hasn’t ruled out a long-term multi-venue model and hopes the Rundle pop-up venue will serve as a trial run for future possibilities.
“Obviously the good part about having multiple venues is that you can piggyback off your systems. We have always done everything in house,” Steeb said.
“Of course, there’s the disadvantage of having a much larger payroll because you have a second venue. Up here we have 32 employees and the Rundle street site will probably be another 15 employees.
“But you have to have that confidence to do it. Obviously we have done our research and unless something absolutely terrible happens with lockdowns, I think we will just go through that period and manage that fine.”
The ability to be flexible is what has allowed Prancing Pony to make this next step, as Steeb explained.
“It’s a bit scary but like with everything new, you have to scare yourself occasionally and see how you go. But I think if COVID has taught us anything, it’s that nothing will stay the same and we have to be extremely flexible.
“It’s been an amazing journey for Prancing Pony and this is the next step for us. Our people are super excited about it and we hope our fans are super excited too.”