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The 2020s may be off to an…interesting start, but the Voodoo Brewery franchise is channeling some old-school Roaring Twenties awesomeness with our all-new location in New Kensington, PA. Situated in a historic 1920s-era building on 5th Avenue in the heart of the bustling Pittsburgh suburb, our latest addition to the Voodoo Brewery franchise family is set to open its doors Friday, August 21!

The Voodoo Taproom at the Ritz, which was built nearly a century ago as the Ritz Theatre, is already proving to be the perfect venue for a brewery franchise that is all about embracing the unique and marching to the beat of our own drummer. New Kensington residents, along with longtime customers at other Voodoo Brewery franchise locations, were invited to help decorate the raw space that would become the Voodoo Taproom, along with its adjacent open-air beer garden, with materials ranging from stained glass to spray paint, for coupons good for a free beer upon opening.

The result is a delightfully quirky mishmash of styles and ideas that brewery franchise Chief Operating Officer Jake Voelker says is the whole idea behind Voodoo’s community-first philosophy. “I always say, craft beer without community is just beer,” remarked Voelker in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette interview commemorating the grand opening of the New Kensington brewery franchise.

Voodoo Taproom’s Owners, Mike and Sue Malcanas, are embracing the eclectic charm of the brewery franchise location that they’ve had in the works since June 2019, getting creative with the use of space and repurposed materials to create a community meeting spot that is already influencing the look and feel of the rest of the neighborhood. “We’re basically Voodoo-izing the entire town,” Mr. Malcanas told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.” In addition to hiring Shane Pilster, the artist who created the giant mural on Voodoo Taproom’s outdoor space, to add original artwork on other buildings nearby, New Kensington is also slated to open a public pavilion for live music and other outdoor gatherings. Malcanas notes, “Ultimately, this is going to be Central Park, New Kensington.”

In fact, the Voodoo Taproom at the Ritz is slated to host its first free outdoor concert on Saturday, August 22, as acoustic cover band The Knockoffs take the stage as part of Pittsburgh’s ‘Seven Days of Music’ series. Customers can kick back with an ice-cold brew and chill out with some tunes just as they would any other summer- with the exception of the face masks that attendees will be required to wear.

Brewery Franchise COO Jake VoelkerIn the span of time since the Malcanases signed the brewery franchise agreement, the world has changed. COVID-19 has certainly had an impact on the couple’s plans for the Voodoo Taproom, but along with Jake Voelker and the rest of the Voodoo Brewery franchise’s executive leadership team, they have been able to successfully augment their business model to keep customers safe and healthy while still being able to provide good times and great beer.

Jake Voelker explains how the Voodoo Brewery franchise, including the New Kensington location, has adapted its model in order to safely accommodate customers and keep the beer and good vibes flowing. “We focused, and transitioned quickly to be able to serve as much as possible outdoors,” he says, adding, “Two of our locations began serving beer out of retrofitted shipping containers in an outdoor area. Our Cleveland location built a new outdoor area. In addition, we have encouraged the use of food trucks as they limit staff and labor costs while providing less exposure, and we have limited our menus to highly cross-utilized ingredients that have a long shelf life; this is because with the constantly changing regulation we essentially have to watch our inventory very carefully.”

Voelker also offers high praise for the Franchise Owners of the New Kensington brewery franchise location and their ability to roll with the changes as they worked to open their new space, stating, “Our New Ken location team is very nimble, and has done a great job transitioning into outdoor space and holding socially distanced events, such as trivia.”

brewery franchise covid-19By keeping on top of the situation and remaining adaptable to circumstances that seem to change almost by the day, our executive team has been able to help all of our brewery Franchise Owners successfully pivot to a model that still allows for good times in the ‘new normal.’

Part of the New Kensington Downtown Historic District, the Ritz Theatre stopped showing movies in the late 1950s, transitioning to a bingo parlor and then a recreation hall for another couple of decades before finally shuttering its doors in 1971. In short, it’s exactly the kind of property we love! Repurposing second- or even third-generation buildings in need of a little TLC is our jam- not only because it helps us preserve historic sites and fit in with the natural vibe and architecture of each community we open a Voodoo Brewery franchise in, but also because it can save our Franchise Owners BIG time! Especially now, amid COVID-19, when interest rates are at historic lows and commercial real estate is abundant, we’re able to help our Franchise Owners uncover these hidden gems right in their community, shine them up, and make them their own by rubbing a little Voodoo Brewery funk on them. It’s just one more thing that makes us kind of the “anti-franchise” brewery franchise.

Feeling a little jealous of Mike and Sue Malcanas, their awesome new taproom, and all the new friends they’ll inevitably make in New Kensington now that they’re purveyors of our legendary craft beer? No need for that- by this time next year, you could be chilling out in the beer garden of a Voodoo Brewery franchise location of your own! We’ve got all the details on our Voodoo Brewery franchise website– take a look and score some free info on how to make your secret (or not so secret) dream of owning a kickass craft brewery franchise come true.

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