The Great Dane opened its first location in Downtown Madison in 1994. In 2002, its Fitchburg location opened. A few short years later, in 2006, The Great Dane opened next to the newly remodeled, upscale, Hilldale Mall. Abutting against the laws in place at the time, The Great Dane fought for a change in the brewing laws here in Wisconsin; that October those changes were made. Now, The Dane is taking full advantage of the opportunity presented.
Last year Hereford and Hops, the Wausau brewpub, shuttered its windows. Soon, The Great Dane will be taking over the brewpub formerly known as Hereford and Hops. I had a chance to ask Eliot Butler, co-owner and President of The Great Dane, some questions about what the newest Dane will look like.
What made you pick Wausau?
It is a great community. There are a lot of cross connections between Wausau and Madison so brand familiarity exists. Plus, we had a motivated seller with a great location.
Did (or Do) you have any other locations in mind in Wisconsin? Is there non-Wisconsin expansion in the future?
We are capped at 10,000 bbls per year (and/or 6 pubs) so we have to see what our company's annual production total will be with Wausau and an expanded Hilldale location. Potential locations for the last 2 in WI: East side of Madison, Milwaukee and/or a surrounding community, or maybe La Crosse or the Dells... There are no current plans for stores outside Wisconsin but after we hit the limit here we will approach that question.
When will the Wausau location open?
Some time in April, hopefully...
Who will be the brewer up there?
Rob LoBreglio will do the initial brewing and he will hire and train an assistant who will eventually take over the brewing duties.
Finally, what are some things that you are doing to transform the old Hereford and Hops?
Removing the "grill your own steaks" grills and adding a gas fireplace, creating a pool hall similar to that at the Madison Great Danes , sprucing up the decor.