The Story Behind Green Bench Brewing
Owners Steven Duffy and Nathan Stonecipher are both St. Petersburg natives. Born and raised in this beautiful waterfront city that some are lucky enough to call home, they went to school together at St. Petersburg High. Their passion for this town and their history here allotted them the perfect opportunity to open St. Petersburg’s first microbrewery. While friends in high school and room-mates at the University of Florida they pursued many different interests. Steven graduated with a degree in Building Construction Management and moved to Ft. Myers while Nathan graduated with a business degree in Finance and moved back to St. Petersburg.
Over the years their shared love for the craft of brewing beer and their drive to bring something unique to St. Petersburg, zeroed them in on the idea of opening a production microbrewery. What started with phone conversations and long distance brainstorming got much more serious when Steven moved back to town. It was at that point that they began homebrewing together in the garage and fine tuning their dream. After doing much research, it quickly became apparent that their combined backgrounds in business and construction would meld perfectly for the creation, and long-term ownership, of a craft brewery.
While they had differing opinions concerning many topics/ideas in relation to Green Bench Brewing, the critical components were agreed upon immediately and wholeheartedly. Green Bench would craft unique, high quality, beers using a combination of fresh, local and traditional ingredients. Green Bench would dispense a product that would be enjoyed and embraced by those in the community, while striving to challenge the status quo of taste in this area. Green Bench beer would provide a classic medium for conversation, business and relationships to be forged and strengthened. Green Bench would take care to grow their brand slowly and deliberately, ensuring the continued satisfaction of their committed customer base. Perhaps most importantly, Steven and Nathan wanted Green Bench Brewing Co. to be a valuable asset to this community and an addition to the local business landscape of which St. Petersburg could be proud.
After putting pen to paper on a business plan, changing zoning laws and use codes in St. Petersburg, wading through numerous industrial properties for sale/lease, laying out potential floor plans, negotiating leases, receiving unanimous approval from the City on their special exception submittal, finding the right equity partners, losing other equity partners, resuscitating the dream a couple of times from near death experiences, finding the right debt partner, finding a head brewer and partner that perfectly complements their team, organizing their purchase of equipment and beginning construction on their facility, it’s been a long road for this crew, as it has been for many others. However, they wouldn’t have changed a thing along the way. What they lost in time, they gained in an education and humility. The personal costs and headaches associated with opening this distinctive production microbrewery assure the public that their passion runs deep and that their drive is immutable. This is how good beer is made, with sacrifice, sweat equity and tears. The process shouldn’t be easy, you should have to use all that’s within you to chase down the dream, and when you catch it, the fruits of your labor will be priceless.