The growth of the craft beer industry is apparently bottomless.
Appleton-based Stone Cellar Brewpub is not just expanding their brewing capabilities, but is getting into the banquet business. Stone Cellar is partnering with Riverview Gardens on a new full-service banquet hall at 1101 S. Oneida St. on Appleton's south side.
Stone Cellar at Riverview Gardens has already begun operations; specializing in weddings, special events and currently booking holiday parties.
"We have been working with them (Riverview Gardens) using their vegetables in our menu, and they came to us and said you're local, sustainable, organic and we need to make this building be more productive and we'd like you to take it over," says Stone Cellar co-owner Tom Lonsway. "So we looked at it, talked about it, and said why not."
The facility features a banquet room, large bar room, outdoor patio and an area for a bridal lounge, as well as perfect outdoor ceremony spaces. Capacity for the operation is 200 in the dining hall and 80 in the bar area.
But running a restaurant, bar and brewery is a whole different ballgame than booking and serving banquets.
"My son and I have no experience in that. However, on our staff we have numerous people who have a great deal of experience in that part of the hospitality industry," says Lonsway. "Our chef has experience having worked at the Radisson that does very large groups. So we felt we had enough expertise on staff to make it work."
To celebrate this new venture, Stone Cellar at Riverview Gardens will host a public Oktoberfest/Grand Opening gala event on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 6-9 pm to showcase the facility and operations.
A full German-themed buffet, featuring 10 different craft and import Oktoberfest beers will be available at a cost of $15 per person. To make a reservation to attend the event, call (920) 997-3332.
This is just the latest in a series of efforts that have contributed to the Lonsways' business success over the last nine years. Key milestones include a main floor expansion of the Stone Cellar brewing area in 2012 and the launch of their packaged beers under the Stone Arch label.
"It's exceeded our expectations. Our distributor gave us sales projections, and within the first month we passed that number by over three times," says Tom Lonsway. "The public reception has just been amazing to us."
That success has been achieved by only releasing two of their beers: the Pie Eyed IPA and their Scottish Ale.
"We are going to be releasing the Six Grain Ale on October 1st and our Vanilla Stout on January 1st. Those are all four of our most popular beers," says Lonsway.
He adds those four will remain their only bottled releases, but says they will be coming out with specialty beers at some point in time on a seasonal basis.
Lonsway says that he and his son Steve are, "just beer guys," but there's no denying that they've taken a small dream and brewed a bigger batch of success than they ever imagined.
"We've just been so appreciative of how the community has received our effort here and how they've tied in to all the organic and sustainable and buy local concepts we feel strongly about."