SAN DIEGO — The unique masks hanging at Voodoo Child Brewing Company are some of Jake Deardorff’s favorite things about his tasting room.
“Voodoo culture is made up of many different cultures and different superstitions,” Deardorff said. “They come from all over the world: New Zealand, Africa, Mexico.”
What You Need To Know
Many small business owners are adopting a “roommate” model “Business roommates” are completely different businesses who share the same space The businesses split bills, bring in customers for each other and collaborate Many small businesses believe this is a great way forward with inflation and rising cost of living
He’s been collecting masks for years and is excited to finally display them all in his first tasting room.
Deardorff started Voodoo Child with his friends James McCanna and Justin Buckingham at the homebrew level, the name inspired in part by Jimi Hendrix and other classic rock.
They had wanted to open their own brewery for years, but rising rents, inflation and the cost of living proved a challenge. When the opportunity arose to take over a room at an already established brewery, they jumped at the chance.
“We’d still be looking for a place to set ourselves up, like the bricks and mortar,” Deardorff said. “It was just really strange, like perfect timing.”
They now share a tasting room with Savagewood Brewing Company, owned by Darrel Brown.
“We love working with [Brown], he’s a good solid beer maker and guy and I have a feeling we are too,” laughed Deardorff.
McCanna said moving in with Savagewood quickly moved them from the homebrew level to a bigger, more efficient business model.
“At home I had to watch out for a lot of beer for a long time and make sure the temperatures were right and it didn’t get confused,” he said. “Now we have a big digital system in the back, so this is just set it up and forget it and let it do its job for three weeks, which makes it a lot easier. You have less to worry about and it’s a better product.”
Billy Beltz is their next door neighbor and the owner of Lost Cause Meadery.
“We like to experiment a lot with styles, ingredients, processes and really make a full range of meads because mead can be so versatile,” Beltz said.
Lost Cause was one of the first in San Diego to adopt the “business roommates” model. He shares a space with Rollin Roots, a kitchen, and Serpentine Cider, a hard cider company.
“Instead of just having a meadery and getting people in, or just a cidery, we had this really cool space with a kitchen and you could get mead and cider and so it was kind of a destination,” Beltz said. “Just a totally unique drinking experience.”
By splitting the cost of the operation, they were all able to survive the pandemic. Despite COVID-19, Beltz opened a second tasting room. Serpentine Cider also opened a second tasting room and Rollin Roots is expanding.
“I’ve probably asked two or three entrepreneurs about it in the past month,” Beltz said. “You know, ‘how can we do this alone?’ thing. And it’s a great model and you can do it in so many different ways.”
All craft drink makers agree that splitting operating costs is just the tip of the iceberg. Additional benefits include brainstorming, collaboration, and customer acquisition that benefits everyone. Like regular roommates, they all agree that it’s important to work with someone you share values with and enjoy.
“Besides sharing costs, it’s also like sharing the opportunity to generate revenue as well,” McCanna said. “Beer brings the world together a little bit.”
“It’s not a conventional system by any means, but I’d say it’s a bit simpler,” Deardorff said. “Don’t be afraid to do it. Sometimes weird things are great.”