RVA 5×5 | Legend Brewing Co. is Looking to Sell

by | Apr 23, 2024 | BREWS & SPIRITS, EAT DRINK

This Business of the Week story is somewhat bittersweet as Mike Platania at Richmond BizSense reported that Legend Brewing Co. is looking to sell its property and maybe their assets and formula as well. Last month they put their 1.3-acre property on 7th Street in Manchester for sale, but do not yet know if they will relocate operations or if they will keep making their iconic Richmond suds. Platania reports that discussions have been had with other brewers to sell some assets and equipment and possibly some of their recipes including their famous Legend Brown Ale and also that a relocation of the brewery/taphouse remains a possibility. 

Dave Gott, Legend’s vice president of operations, said, “We want the brand to continue whether we continue it or if it ends up in someone else’s hands. The goal, ultimately, is keeping Legend Brown Ale and our products on the shelves. We’ve worked too hard to let it go by the wayside.”

Legend opened its doors in 1994 when craft beer was virtually unknown in Richmond and most people were still engaged in the tastes great/less filling debate. According to the Brewers Association, at that time Legend was one of 601 craft breweries in the country, and today there are more than 5,000. 

They started small in the basement on the backside of the current building on 7th Street that most people couldn’t find and once you did, it was cozy. The official capacity of the tap house was 15 people, and on most evenings, locals would come and enjoy Legend Brown or Porter and stand outside and chat, or sit in plastic chairs on the driveway outside the brewery. The spot and the beer grew in popularity and with wider distribution and the opening of the deck a few years later that offered an unmatched view of the city skyline, Legend became a legend in the Virginia beer universe and was soon found all over the state and on tap and in stores throughout the region. 

The area around Manchester has seen meteoric growth in the last 10-15 years with property values skyrocketing with apartments being built at lighting speed; the craft brewery scene in Richmond exploded starting in 2012 and nationwide, and data shows beer sales are slowing or stagnant. 

Tom Martin, Legend’s president and founder, told the [Manchester Alliance] that the company is hoping to transfer its brand to a new brewer to take it over. 

“We’re sorry to be selling the property. We really are. I’m sorry to be leaving Manchester and Richmond,” Martin told the group. “The fact of the matter is our revenues have been going down steadily the last few years and our expenses have been going up, and the numbers are just not adding up to a viable business anymore. So we’re looking to maximize what we can do with the property.”

It’s been a great run for Legend, which put Richmond on the beer map long before it was cool. I, for one, sure hope they remain on the beer scene even if they are no longer in Manchester or operate a tap house. Their legacy is, indeed legendary, and their beer and their view have long been mainstays that are both, unequivocally — Richmond.

Read more about Legend Brewing Co. turning 25 HERE

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RVA 5×5: A radio transmission signal quality is measured by 5’s. The term “5×5” means there is a strong and clear signal. Send emails, thoughts, questions, comments, tips to rva5x5@gmail.com. Everything is confidential and no names will be published. Thanks for reading!

Jon Baliles

Jon Baliles

Jon Baliles is the founder and editor of the Substack RVA 5x5 newsletter (https://rva5x5.substack.com). He spent a decade in City Hall as a member of City Council and also served as an advisor to Mayors Wilder and Stoney and also served as the Executive Assistant to the Director of the Planning Department.

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