The Livery on Main: Sebastopol’s community-powered enterprise

Opening a local business has always been a challenge—permits, start-up costs, marketing, a reliable staff, and a steady customer base are all obstacles any new enterprise faces. Add a global pandemic into the mix and the prospects for a new business become downright daunting.

Is there another way? The Beale Group offers an enthusiastic yes.

The Beale Group is a family of Sebastopol-based businesses that include the Builders’ Studio of Sebastopol (an architecture and engineering firm), Thrive Construction Group (a general contractor) and now Farm to Coast Collective (a public benefit corporation aimed at empowering small businesses). Instead of the go-it-alone approach to new businesses, The Beale Group is placing its bet on the city’s most valuable asset: the community.

Farm to Coast’s first project is The Livery on Main, a 22,000 square-foot, all-season, indoor/outdoor complex in downtown Sebastopol that will include a rooftop event venue, co-working spaces, a bar and five food stalls anchoring the building. Inspired by the 19th century livery that once stood on the site, the extensively remodeled building on the corner of South Main and Burnett streets will pay tribute to Sebastopol’s agrarian roots and enduring, community-minded sensibility. Opening is slated for Summer 2022.

On the ground floor, the Stables will feature a food hall made up of thoughtfully curated West County culinary artisans. On the second floor, the Loft will be home to a lively co-working space and Farriers, a lounge showcasing local beer, wine and spirits. Up top on the open-air third floor, the Rafters will be an intimate space for live performances and a rooftop garden deck complete with fire pits. All three levels will be thoughtfully designed for collaborating, gathering and celebrating the best of what the West County has to offer.

“Local businesses, especially restaurants, have been hammered by COVID-19,” said Greg Beale, The Beale Group CEO. “We see The Livery as a community revitalization project—for the community, by the community.”

By utilizing a collective business model of shared resources and expertise embodied by The Beale Group, the entrepreneurs within The Livery on Main tenants can leverage design, marketing, HR and point-of-sale services as well as a shared stewarding and support staff to grow their operations and realize profits that might be out of reach for a standalone business.

The first-of-its-kind concept in Sebastopol will offer emerging food businesses the opportunity to showcase their innovative and locally sourced cuisine with a low barrier to entry while sharing the costs of the common areas and back-of-house staffing and services. Each stall will present its unique personality with a variety of configurations depending on location, menu and compatibility with their “neighbors.” Most stalls will feature local area restaurateurs looking to expand their brand identities or create a new one using the Stables as a test kitchen while reaching a diverse clientele of food loving Bay Area and Sonoma County residents.

To date, the interest from potential food hall vendors has been tremendous with signed letters of intent received from a number of both established and up-and-coming restaurateurs including: Village Bakery, Cozy Plum Bistro, Dino’s Greek Food, Jam’s Joy Bungalow, Lunchbox Sonoma County and Sushi Shoubu. The Collective is in the process of reviewing the submitted business plans and are still accepting applications and business plans from local chefs. In addition to Beale, the Farm to Coast team includes Chief Operations Officer Rebeca Lipski, Director of Marketing Jennifer Klein and General Manager Thor Holm “COVID was horrible on so many levels,” says Beale. “It still is. But it also taught us how much we rely on each other. That’s the ethos behind The Beale Group, Farm to Coast Collective and The Livery. We are stronger when we stand together.”

To learn more about The Livery on Main, Farm to Coast Collective is hosting a virtual town hall August 14 followed by a livestreamed performance by Dave McNab. Visit livery.com for more details. Farm to Coast is also launching a Regulation Crowdfunding campaign on August 13, so the community can invest and own equity in the project. To apply to be a food hall vendor, email your concept and business plan to connect@livery135.com.

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