Today we’d like to introduce you to Timothy Sturm.
Timothy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
It’s a crazy story how I ended up opening a beer bar in Koreatown. I had been working as a librarian in Sacramento for years and started dating my current wife who was living in LA and who I had known professionally (also a librarian). We did the long-distance thing for a while but of course that got old and we wanted to be together. So we started thinking how we could make that happen. Now I’ve been a craft beer nerd for as long as I can remember. I spent a lot of my free time going to beer bars and breweries. My wife really encouraged me to follow my passion. So we started looking into opening a beer business. At the time, the concept of being a bar and bottleshop was a bit new and it seemed like that model was a perfect fit for us. It’s a classic quit-your-job-and-follow-your-dreams kind of story and sometimes I have to pinch myself that we really made this happen.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, not at all! We had never opened a business before and we had a lot to learn as we went along. Everyone warns you that opening a business is challenging but nothing really prepares for the reality. And getting open is just the beginning. Our biggest obstacle was getting the word out. Being tucked away in the back corner a strip mall didn’t help either. We’ve really struggled with marketing and in the early years that hurt.
Please tell us about Southland Beer.
We’re a bar that specializes in craft beer. We’re also a bottleshop, which means we sell bottles and cans to go. So we’re a bit of a hybrid. Typically for this business model, our bottles and cans are priced to go and we charge a corkage to drink them in house. The two-tier pricing allows us and the customer to have it both ways by having both a to-go price and a bar price. Of course, we also have twenty taps, a small natural wine list, and serve cider, kombucha, and mead.
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve spent a lot of time at beer bars and breweries as a customer. When we thought about our concept, we just simply wanted to create a place that we would want to hang out in. For us, that meant rotating the taps to keep the selection exciting; featuring great beer from local breweries, a casual space, friendly staff, and no TVs.
We’ve created a space that people feel comfortable in. People come for the beer, but they come back for the sense of community. We’re most proud that we’ve created this Cheers-like social space that people really respond to.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Hire a good real estate attorney to negotiate the lease. This will cost you money upfront when you’re desperate to save every penny, but it will save you enormously over the life of your business.
- Address: 740 S Western Ave #112
Los Angeles, CA 90005
- Website: http://www.southlandbeer.com
- Phone: 213-908-5104
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @southlandbeerla
- Facebook: @southlandbeerla