Business Name: Fenwick Farms Brewing Company

Address: 219 W. Washington St., Rensselaer, IN 47978

Contact Info: 219-866-3773, admin@fenwickfarmsbrewingcompany.com

Owner: Ron Fenwick, Sam Yacko, Kenny VanHouten

Opening Data: August 14, 2017

What does this business do?

Nanobrewery and restaurant. We make our own beer, as well as serve other beer, wine and spirits. We also have a full-service restaurant that is absolutely family-friendly.

What was the impetus for opening this business?

The concept of the business was an evolving business plan that was always a dream until the right conditions aligned and the three owners decided it was now or never. We decided it was now. That occurred in October of 2016.

What is the best thing about being located in Rensselaer?

The community. Our business is one that is supported solely by the community. Rensselaer is a community where relationships and personal contact still matters and we believe in that. We try to always be part of the community and we have been blessed with how much Rensselaer and the surrounding communities have supported us.

What is the biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge is being a business that is experienced in a largely subjective way. We want to provide the best experience for everyone that patrons our business, but we don’t get to set those parameters, the customers do. At the end of the day, we are still human and we aren’t perfect. It’s always a challenge wanting to deliver a perfect experience when it’s not always possible.

When is your busiest time of the year?

We are fortunate enough to not have a specific “slow time” other than when the weather may discourage people from venturing out. So far, our summers have proven to be slightly busier than other times of the year.

What is the most popular thing you sell/service you provide?

Our beer and burgers, hands down. We partner with Culp Family Farms to utilize their beef and pork throughout our menu and it translates to higher quality for sure!

What is a less popular item/service/event you would recommend?

It may not be well known that we have a rotating Features menu. We allow our kitchen staff to have some creativity there and they come up with some incredibly awesome things! We would encourage you to check out the Features menu next time you are in!

What is the thing you most like to do as part of your business?

Connect with people and give back. Our staff enjoys getting to know our customers as much as possible and we’ve developed some incredibly awesome relationships, both personally and professionally, because of those connections. We also enjoy giving back when we can, not forgetting that it’s the community that allows us to be successful.

What is the best thing about owning your own business?

The freedom to find our own solutions to problems. Our business has been a giant learning process and we hope that doesn’t ever change to be honest. The best thing about it being our business, though, is that we are only limited by ourselves as far as what we can do to make things better.

What is the biggest downside?

Accepting that the work is never done. We are so very fortunate to have a phenomenal staff and leadership team in place that cares about our business as if it’s their own. There’s never a day, though, that the business doesn’t need some sort of attention. We’re just blessed to have a great team helping us.

What is the biggest misconception about your business?

I don’t know if this is a true misconception or not, but I believe this applies to us and many other small businesses in our community. We aren’t a corporate franchise, we weren’t given a blueprint. Like many other businesses in this community, we have built this from the ground up and have many people that have literally changed their lives to help our business grow. Sometimes I think that’s easy to forget. It’s so easy to judge someone or something based off a small exposure that may not have been perfect rather than appreciating all the things that have happened to even create that moment.

How would you describe your business philosophy?

It’s all about relationships. Where our business is now is nowhere in our original business plan. We have had to learn to adapt and make big decisions that we never saw coming. The ONLY thing that’s allowed us to keep building our business is making sure we are proud of how we are treating people, both customers and staff.

When are some of the plans you have for the business in the future?

Actually, we recently made a conscious decision to be “Not Bigger, Be Better.” That said, we are going to focus on improving how we do business for a while rather than on growth. It’s important we don’t get too big, too fast and risk forgetting what’s actually important to us.

How has your business changed over time?

It was never our plan to run a restaurant, especially this soon in our business. It’s a decision that happened organically. We went from wanting broad exposure through distribution of our product to focusing on our local presence and what that can mean to our community. We want to be proud stewards of Rensselaer and Jasper county.

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?

Understand now that you’re going to be wrong about more than you realize. Running a business requires flexibility and adaptation, often times even pushing you out of your comfort zone. Make sure you have people you can lean on in those moments because they will come, no question.

Anything else you want to say about your business?

First and foremost, thank you. If you’ve ever spent a penny in our establishment, I want you to know we appreciate the opportunity to earn your business and want to continue to earn that opportunity. Keep an eye on us through our website and social media to see how we continue to evolve.

Lastly, this December we will be hosting our third Cheerful Heart event, where we partner with other local businesses and organizations to help raise money in an effort to feed local less-fortunate families and provide gifts for children for the holidays. We don’t keep a cent of the money raised and would love to see this effort grow. If you want to get involved, shoot us an email.

Otherwise, come by the first week/weekend of December and help support the cause! Cheers!