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Mr. Brews taps the Oshkosh market with its latest franchise location

The Oshkosh Avenue establishment is franchiseís 15th unit nationally

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January 24, 2024

OSHKOSH — According to a Bloomberg Businessweek report, “the craft beer market is still in its infancy.”

The report states that during the next eight to 10 years, the projected growth of craft beer will increase to more than 16% of the total beer market — a 50% increase from today’s 8% market share.

The increase in the popularity of craft beer, Ken Leetch, chief operating officer of Mr. Brews Taphouse, said led to the franchise’s latest opening — this one at 1710 Oshkosh Ave. in Oshkosh.

“Oshkosh is a perfect location for what we want to do,” he said. “From modest beginnings in Weston in 2013, the new location in Oshkosh is the franchise’s 15th.”

Leetch said Mr. Brews is not a brewery — rather “it’s simply a place to come and drink craft beer.”

“We partner with local breweries,” he said. “Each one of our beer menus at each location is 100% unique to that location, based on what the local beer partners/breweries are. Most of our locations have 60 taps, but Oshkosh has 57.”

A place to socialize
Leetch said Mr. Brews began working with the Oshkosh folks early last year to bring the taproom to the city of 67,000 — joining Appleton/Darboy and De Pere as the only other locations in Northeast Wisconsin.

“We went through the design phase, and Oshkosh is the brand’s second standalone unit, joining Appleton/Darboy in June of last year,” he said. “Typically, we’ve been in strip (mall) centers and end caps, but we’ve expanded our footprint with this facility.”

Leetch said the newest location is the company’s largest facility to date.

Mr. Brews Taphouse in Oshkosh, which opened in early January, is located at 1710 Oshkosh Ave. Submitted Photo

“The original location in Weston — opened by Founder/CEO Steve Day — was 1,200 square feet,” he said. “To show how far we’ve come, the Oshkosh location’s kitchen alone is more than 1,500 square feet. We’ve invested in new kitchen equipment — which allows us to have a more diverse menu.”

Leetch said the Oshkosh Avenue location “is our signature location and center of excellence.”

“This is where we will do all the training for new items for the brand — (with) teammates, managers and leaders in the organization,” he said. “This location will help us grow better. We’ve also invested in some better digital technology in the kitchen, and our servers will have hand-held devices to use at the tables to help with the customer experience. In a nutshell, we invested in the technology, the facility and the menu.”

Concept takes off
Leetch said Day started small in Weston, but demand quickly changed the course of the company.

“Steve started with 30 or 40 tap beers and a small selection of burgers — it took off from there,” he said. “He started looking at expanding within a few years, but organically, he had a few people approach him about starting a Mr. Brews. They loved the brand and the concept, and it grew from there.”

Leetch said Mr. Brews began franchising more heavily from 2016-18.

“It was gaining momentum, and we had a few more agreements all ready to go, but then the COVID-19 pandemic came along,” he said. “Some of those agreements didn’t go through, and we pushed pause for a bit — but then we started ramping back up after COVID. (In 2022), I got involved in the brand, and we’ve been growing since. From where we started to where we are now, it’s been a lot of growth.”

Future taprooms
Though the Oshkosh just opened, Leetch said other Mr. Brews are already in the works.

“We got some signed deals in Arizona, another one in Wisconsin and working with other markets in Iowa, Florida and Arkansas,” he said. “We’re ramping up some growth, which is fun. We’re a small, emerging brand.”

Leetch said he’s personally seen the growth in the popularity of craft beer over the last several years.

Ken Leetch

“Everybody likes beer,” he laughed. “We even have interest from Dubai and India — it’s blowing up in other countries, too. We’re talking to organizations all over to see if it will come to fruition. It’s an expanding scene, and there is a lot of creativity out there with different varieties and styles of beer.”

Leetch said it’s “status quo” moving forward for Mr. Brews.

“We’ve got three signed deals that will open this year,” he said. “We opened one in Kansas before Christmas, opened Oshkosh (in early January) and will open in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, soon. We’ll have three new operations to start the new year.”

Leetch said the goal is five new locations a year — at least for now.

“If we push it to five to 10 next year, that would be great,” he said. “We might get to 30 units by three years from now.”

For more information on Mr. Brews Taproom Oshkosh, find it on Facebook or visit mrbrewstaphouse.com.

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