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Minnesota Bar Offers One Time Payment Of $1,000 For Free Beer For Life

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City Lab – There is a price tag for unlimited beer for the rest of your life. It’s $1,000. In reality, the cost for that much beer is a lot more. But for a few dozen people, free beer for life is their reward for investing in a small restaurant called Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub in a quiet southern corner of Minneapolis. Amy Johnson and her two business partners needed to raise $220,000 to secure a bank loan and fulfill their dream of opening a restaurant that served beer brewed right there at the pub. They went to investors who offered to give heavily for a voting share in the restaurant. But since the potential investors had no experience in the restaurant industry, the owners backed away. And then came the idea from some friends and family who wanted to help out. “They were, like, ‘I’ve got a few grand, but I don’t have too much money,’ ” Johnson recalls. “And people kept saying this over and over, and we latched onto the idea. Why not just take a couple grand from everybody and then we’d have all the money we’d need?” So, that’s what they did. People who invested $1,000 receive free in-house beer for the rest of their lives, or as long as the place stays open. People could also receive 0.1 percent nonvoting equity in the company for every $1,000 invested. Or for $5,000, investors get 0.5 percent equity and free in-house beer for life. The brewpub, now a registered LLC, hit its goal of $220,000 through the 46 people who chose the first option, 42 who picked the second, and 30 who took the third, all finding out about the opportunity by word of mouth. Northbound has now been open for almost two years and is thriving. The investors didn’t drink them dry. The restaurant is giving away some 17 beers a day, and the cost is low, at just 40 cents a beer. Plus, investors aren’t just going to the brewpub for a beer by themselves—they order food, bring people, or maybe order a scotch after dinner. For the investors, it’s also about the sense of ownership. Or, as Johnson explains, “We have an army of over 100 people who are our cheerleaders.”

One of those cheerleaders is Andy Root, the owner of the building and one of the investors who decided to give $1,000 to the cause of free beer. His simple reasoning: “Hey, if I live nearby and it’s my neighborhood bar, I’m going to pay $1,000, because I’m a beer drinker and show up and drink.”

One of the best feelings in the world is establishing yourself at a local neighborhood bar. Finding that “Cheers” bar where people know your name and your order and give you buybacks and discounts – its incredible. Not only for the booze factor but there’s just something satisfying about it. Like every man should have one of those places. The only problem is for every free beer or free shot they give you, you end up tipping like twice as much because you want to acknowledge they hook you up. You feel welcome and saddling up at the bar is like a second home to you. The hot chick bartenders flirt with you and the guys pass you some shots while you’re watching the game, but in the long run you end up spending like a zillion dollars. I remember when I lived above the bar Arctica in Murray Hill I used to pop into that place on average once a day. My year end statement said I spent like $7,000 there for the year. It was almost like I paid fucking rent there.

Wish I coulda got the fucking Smokehouse treatment out in Minnesota. $1,000 for free beer for LIFE? Thats one of the best deals I’ve ever heard. I would make life decisions based around that guarantee. Like “Hey honey we have a few kids now I think its time we move to a bigger house in the burbs.” Nope. Sorry babe. No can do. As long as I’m on this earth I will live within walking distance to the Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub. I would drink so unnecessarily. Its like your whole life is just one big open bar. Pop in, order a beer, take one sip, order another one. Drunk on random weekday nights just because you’re already paid for. At the end of the day those people would probably end up hating my guts. Give me my thousand back just to go home and stop being an asshole in their bar.