However, it must first raise the funds necessary to do so
After home brewing for several years, Port Richmond resident Thomas Sheridan decided to open Do Good Brewing Company in 2013 with his then-business partner, Benjamin Bedard. However, after closing its doors in early 2017, and experiencing a myriad of troubles trying to re-open what he dubs “Port Richmond’s first brewery,” Sheridan is hoping to rally public support.
“I absolutely fell in love with the art and science of the whole process [of brewing],” Sheridan said. “Benjamin was a fellow Freemason at the same lodge as me and we had both spoken before about home brewing, so when I thought about making it a business, he was the first person I reached out to.”
After meeting one day at Taconelli’s on Richmond Street, and making their partnership official, the two also decided on a name for the new brewery. Named partially after Silence DoGood, which was Benjamin Franklin’s pen name, its other namesake stems from “Doing Good,” a homage to Freemasonry by promoting the donation to local charities and people in need.
“See we, like Benjamin Franklin, were both Freemason, so it made sense to intertwine that connection into the company’s brand and philosophy,” Sheridan said. “At our peak, we were in 67 bars and were distributing roughly 20 kegs a week. Every account was within city limits, with many being in the River Wards themselves.”
Sheridan added that, during the time period of Do Good Brewing Company’s operation, it was hard to go to any bar in Bridesburg, Port Richmond or Fishtown without seeing its tap handle. Its most successful accounts were in places such as Mick’s Inn, Cheers, Kensington Pub, Bridesburg Pub, Cook and Shaker and other local “corner bars.”
“I grew up with my customers, I went to Catholic grade school with my customers and I went to North Catholic High School with my customers. There is a direct unshakeable bond that not many other breweries, if any at all, can say they have,” Sheridan said. “[Local bars] put their trust in me as a neighborhood kid and I did everything I could to keep it.”
However, according to Sheridan, he expressed to the company’s investors, comprised of two lawyers and a doctor, that the distributor model was not working in late 2016, and that he felt it was necessary to open a location with a bar where they could sell the brews by the glass to the public. Yet, their location was in a warehouse at Westmoreland and Frankford Avenue and was not suited for a bar/restaurant.
“Even though our beer was popular and the number of accounts was growing, the profit made from selling kegs wholesale was just not enough to be sustainable. Retail sales were needed,” Sheridan said.
While the investors had initially agreed to the transformation and approved a second round of funding for the expansion, Sheridan was forced to move the entire brewery into storage until the expansion was complete, and told the public the plans and said that the brewery would be back soon. Yet, during that time, there were very long delays with the investors and before Sheridan knew it, they had backed out from the expansion plans.
“They were nice enough to hand back all of their ownership to me, but with my entire brewery in storage and no investors it would have taken $20,000 or more just to get back to where I was, let alone, get to the next level that i wanted to be at,” Sheridan said. “So I was essentially closed.”
To make matters worse, in April, the buyout agreement he had made with Bedard was coming due, and with the brewery closed and the investors gone, he did not have the funds to pay it. Resulting from him not being able to pay the note, 50 percent ownership was returned to Bedard, forcing him to sell the equipment and split the proceeds. At that point, Bedard kindly decided to hand ownership back to Sheridan, making him the sole owner of Do Good Brewing Company.
“I am determined to not let the three-year journey that Do Good Brewing had just die,” Sheridan said. “There is nothing I miss more than selling my beer to friends and neighbors in my community. It was too hard a road to launch the brewery, and more recently regain full ownership of the brewery, to watch it just die out anyway.”
In the coming months, Sheridan’s plan is still to open the brew pub expansion he had originally planned for. However, before being able to do so, he must raise the funds necessary to pay for his license renewal and to find a small investor who is willing to pay for the equipment for the new facility.
To do so, he has begun selling Do Good Brewing Company T-shirts, available for $25 at: www.dogoodbrewing.com.
“I have already been in contact with locations in Port Richmond and Bridesburg,” Sheridan, who explained Do Good Brewery has always kept very close ties to the community, said. “As soon as the needed funds are saved, raised or found, we will be poised to launch almost immediately.”