Way Beer brewery becomes a bar and plans national expansion through franchises

Way Beer’s first concept bar opens this Tuesday (5th) in Florianópolis. Unity will be a pilot for future franchises.| Photo: Wagner Zanardo/publicity

If there’s one thing that the Covid-19 pandemic has done in the last two years, it’s completely changed business, through the difficulties and opening up new market opportunities. And that affected the structures of all companies that deal directly with the public, especially those based on face-to-face relationships.

Bars and restaurants had to reinvent themselves in the most restrictive periods, and their suppliers ended up having to join the wheel to continue selling even with everyone at home – and opening their eyes to business diversification.

In general, the biggest suppliers migrated to supermarket retail and the internet, but one in particular stood out and found another path. The brewery from Curitiba, Way Beer, known for producing craft beers and draft beer in different formats and flavors, resorted to these channels and today already sells twice as much as five years ago – 2021 closed with 15% more than in 2019.

In other words, the pandemic made her expand production, find new sales channels and even start to see a new format of operation: brand concept bars.

O Way brewery the first unit officially opens this Tuesday (5th) in a shopping center in Florianópolis, and the second until the end of the semester in Balneário Camboriú. These are two spaces that serve as a pilot for a future national expansion through franchises, a format that already had an outline before the pandemic according to Henrique Domenico, the brand’s general director.

“We even opened a Way kiosk at Plátio Milano [em Florianópolis] to sell directly to consumers in Santa Catarina, as our distribution network is stronger in Curitiba. It was a way to start getting in there, but it worked very well and the kiosk got small”, he told the Good Gourmet Business.

It took a few months of operation until the arrival of the pandemic, which closed the place for about 120 days. When the service returned, even with restrictive decrees, the kiosk turned out to be small again, and then the idea of ​​turning it into a full bar came up.

Keeping an eye on competitors

The idea of ​​expanding the operation to street bars instead of just opening a market for distribution in the out of trade It’s not new to the industry. The giant Brahma has already operated like this in the past and still maintains points of its Bar Brahma in some Brazilian capitals.

But for Way Beer, the sale until then was only in the out of trade. The growth of bar chains like Mr. Hoppy, Porks, among many others, shows that selling on in commerce it can also be very profitable.

“We took the opportunity of a pent-up demand after the pandemic, in a market that is close to ours. [Florianópolis] and who already knows Way’s products. And we intend to expand throughout the country, taking the brand to other cities through our own bars”, commented Domenico.

At this first moment, both spaces are installed in shared gastronomic shopping centers, so the total focus will be on the sale of beers. The first, in Florianópolis, has 56 m² with 15 faucets selling their own labels (80%) and those of third parties that manufacture with Way.

The second, in Balneário Camboriú, is still under construction and will have 21 m². In both, at this first moment, “the champions” of sales will be offered, in addition to appetizers and snacks such as peanuts, chestnuts, Spanish corn, stuffed dark and green olives and chocolate chestnut dragée.

Future street units should have different menus, as the first ones are in gastronomic centers with limitations due to other operators.

Franchise expansion

Way brewery
Way Beer beers now have a new sales channel in their own bars.| Priscilla Fiedler/publicity

The two Way Beer Bar locations operate as pilots for future franchise expansion, with the plan still in development as they perform. But, there are already markets in the brand’s sights: north of Paraná, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, possibly even this year.

“We are going to test the service in these Santa Catarina operations and then accelerate the expansion. However, Curitiba and the metropolitan region will be left out, as we already have a good distribution presence with other bars”, says the director general of Way Beer.

According to Henrique Domenico, the presence of Way Beer in the land of the brewery is already consolidated in more than 300 points of sale, and opening a bar of its own in the city would not make sense.

Post-pandemic recovery

Way brewery
Way’s sales are already 15% higher than in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic.| Priscilla Fiedler/publicity

Way Beer’s new post-pandemic endeavor also adds to the resumption of face-to-face events, which had to be paralyzed due to restrictive decrees. Domenico says there is already a robust agenda in place.

“The few events we’ve already held have had a good audience, we can see their importance for Way’s presence in the market”, he concludes.

In addition, Way Beer started to produce Nauta beer, Carrefour’s own label, which helped to diversify the portfolio and ensure an additional market.

Thus, the diversification of sales channels already projects even better numbers for the coming years than those seen before the pandemic.

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