Brew Practitioners leaving Florence for Agawam

  • Brew Practitioners, in Florence since 2015, is moving to a space with a full-fledged kitchen. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 1/18/2021 9:07:18 AM

NORTHAMPTON — Brew Practitioners, a brewery in downtown Florence, is moving to Agawam.

“We are sad to leave Florence – but feel we had no choice if we wanted to stay in business,” the brewery wrote on its Facebook page Thursday. “It has been 10 months since we have been allowed to do business. Moving to Agawam allows us to do what we do best: brew beer and put it into pint glasses for you to enjoy.”

Restaurants are allowed to serve alcohol if customers also order food made on site, according to the state’s current guidelines. Brew Practioner’s current location in Florence doesn’t have a full-fledged kitchen that would allow them to do that, and they’ve been closed, said Tanzania Cannon-Eckerle, an owner of the brewery. 

Cannon-Eckerle did not want to disclose the specific location in Agawam until the paperwork that will allow the business to reopen was finalized. But, “The place was already retrofitted with a kitchen beforehand,” she said, meaning they could meet the rules of serving food made in-house, “whereas we could not do that out of our Florence location.”

The brewery has been in Florence since 2015, said Cannon-Eckerle. She said leaving is “extremely difficult.”

“We loved our building. We put our heart and soul into that building,” she said. “I laid every one of those pavers on the back patio myself.”

She added that the landlord was “fabulous” and tried to help mitigate expenses so they could stay. But, “we just can’t have zero revenue and be able to pay bills.”

In 2020, the business took in 80% less revenue than in 2019, Cannon-Eckerle said. “That’s just revenue,” she said. “There’s no profit.”

They have been selling cans of beer, but “that was never a huge part of our business model. It was always a bonus.” 

She said the business tried to remain in Northampton. 

In July, the business received a cease-and-desist order from the state stating that the business was not permitted to reopen under the state’s current guidelines. But Cannon-Eckerle, the majority owner of the brewery, disagreed, arguing that offering popcorn and serving chips from a neighboring cafe was enough to meet state criteria for food service.

In the brewery’s announcement, they thanked its supporters. “Thanks everyone who supported local businesses like ours before and during this pandemic,” the announcement reads. “Our local business partners in Florence were always the first to show up when we were open and frankly, helped us stay afloat.”

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