Idaho Springs brewpub Westbound & Down is expanding to lower elevations, although not quite in the way it originally planned.
The brewery purchased the assets and lease of Endo Brewery at 2755 Dagny Way in Lafayette on Aug. 28.
Eric Schmidt, who works in marketing for the brewery, said Westbound started canning its beers at the end of 2019, and the company plans to move those operations to the Endo space. The Lafayette facility will open as a taproom this winter, then likely become more of a brewpub in 2021.
The original Idaho Springs brewery, meanwhile, will focus on producing beer for both brewpubs, Schmidt said.
Westbound already owns land elsewhere in Lafayette, and originally planned to build a sort of “dream brewery” there, Schmidt said. But the economic fallout stemming from the pandemic has made it more challenging to get loans, so Westbound decided to pivot and look for an operating brewery that it could purchase.
Schmidt said Westbound has also abandoned plans, in the works since at least 2018, to open a location at 956 Santa Fe Drive in Denver. That’s partially due to the tight confines and lack of outdoor seating, two factors that are less appealing in the pandemic era.
Schmidt said Westbound produced 1,000 barrels in 2019, and will likely end 2020 at 1,600 barrels. The brewery expects production to more than double next year to 3,500 barrels.
John Livaditis of Axio Commercial Real Estate represented Westbound in the purchase. Chris Cantwell of Transworld Business Brokers represented the seller.
‘I think there was some bad timing’
Westbound’s expansion marks the end of the line for Endo, which opened in 2017. The Lafayette facility, about 4,000 square feet, was its sole location.
Endo co-owner Bob Lichens said he and partner Kevin Van Winkle put the business on the market in early March.
While the pandemic was picking up steam at that point, it wasn’t really a factor in the decision. Rather, the business was “not at the level of success that we expected to be at,” Lichens said. The pair figured they’d give themselves one more summer to try to break through, while scouting for buyers as a way to hedge their bets.
“I think there was some bad timing,” Lichens said of launching in 2017. “While the bubble hasn’t burst or anything like that, there was a saturation point.”
Endo didn’t distribute. It just sold its beers at its taproom, which had about 125 seats.
“That was a super smart decision in 2017,” Lichens said. “But once the pandemic hit, that was a non-starter.”
Endo originally envisioned multiple taprooms, with production staying at its first location. Instead, the partners, both in their 40s, are heading back into the tech industry, which they had left to launch the brewery.
“Our regulars, they’re still going to have a great watering hole,” Lichens said of the sale to Westbound. “In fact, I’ll be here. I don’t live that far away.”