Diamond Bear's Arkansas Alehouse One Step on the Growth Path

by Jan Cottingham  on Monday, Jun. 16, 2014 12:00 am  

Last Thursday, Diamond Bear Brewing Co. opened its Arkansas Alehouse restaurant, allowing owner and President Russ Melton to prove his theory: retail complements production, alehouse complements brewhouse.

Diamond Bear has a lot of room to grow in Arkansas, Melton says, and one way to grow business is to bring diners to his sparkling new headquarters and production facility at 600 N. Broadway in North Little Rock. Diners become beer drinkers (if they weren’t already) who become buyers of Diamond Bear’s products, which are artfully arranged in the front of the facility near the cash register.

The brewery’s former facility in Little Rock could produce only 50,000 cases of bear a year. The new headquarters can produce twice that, 100,000, a volume Melton hopes to reach in two or three months.

Melton founded Diamond Bear in 2000 with his wife, Susan.

He paid $820,000 for the almost 3-acre North Little Rock property, which he bought from high-end bicycle manufacturer Orbea USA LLC.

Melton declined to reveal how much finish-out of the 15,313-SF building was costing him, though he allowed that it was “a lot.”

In addition to the restaurant, the new facility has a private tasting room and space for events. It also has a better layout and flow for tours and for pickups and deliveries as well as three restrooms for customers, as opposed to none previously.

Diamond Bear, which distributes in Arkansas and parts of Mississippi, has gone from about five employees to 25 to 30 just in the last few weeks, Melton said. That number could increase if the brewery adds products to its lineup, as Melton would like to do, along with wider distribution. “Sixty percent of the Arkansas market, maybe higher, is cans,” he said. “Well, we don’t offer those right now, but that’s something that’s coming very soon.”



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