Riley committed to coming back
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Dan Riley, owner of Riley’s Brewing, stands among the ashes and charred remains of his brewery after it was destroyed by fire on July 26. Riley says he will rebuild his brewing company after an outpouring of support.
A lot has been said about Riley’s Brewing “rising from the ashes like a Phoenix,” but that’s exactly what Dan Riley plans to do about his company.
He hopes to begin brewing at House of Pendragon in Sanger at the end of the month to be able to get his brand back out there
In the week since a “catastrophic” fire tore through the main production building of Riley’s Brewing, Riley has been overwhelmed, and humbled by the amount of well wishes he has received.
“We’ve had people up north to the coast come out,” he said. “The outreach has been amazing. It’s very humbling. Sometimes, it takes my breath away with how many people came out to support. People came out and asked what do you need? Now, I’m just trying to get through insurance. I’m not used to accepting help. I’m used to helping other people. It’s a little tough for me.”
The fire caused approximately $6.8 million in damages and the cause is still under investigation.
“We’ve had five different investigators out here,” he said. “Cal Fire is already done. The others are insurance agencies tearing through the place. We kind of have an idea of where it started. Nobody has any idea how it started. Nobody was here, so no one got hurt. But, if we were here, it might have been a small cardboard fire that we would have put out. It’s kind of a mixed bag.”
There is a GoFundMe created by Riley to help his displaced employees. It has raised more than $11,000 to help with his 12 employees that have been displaced because of the fire.
“It will be done at the end of the month. We’ve also done pretty good about trying to find the guys other jobs. We want to get some of the coverage to get back into the saddle. The GoFundMe for the workers is for them. I’m not taking a penny. It all goes to my guys to get their boots back on.”
Once the insurance companies finish their investigations and clear the area, Riley will get to work to rebuild his brewery. However, the fire hasn’t kept Riley from his newest project, which should be done by next year.
“The losses are in the millions,” Riley said. “That’s catastrophic. If we get everything we need, construction will start. This has not slowed down our Riverstone Beer Garden project. The beer garden will still be out on Avenue 12 and State Route 41. We’re hoping to be open in the first quarter of next year. We’re getting ready to submit permits. If anything, the fire has allowed me to concentrate more on it.”
The Riverstone Beer Garden will feature a farmer’s market and an event center to be a multi-use facility.
The Central Valley Brewers Guild will host a beer festival on August 27, with the proceeds going to Riley’s Brewing. Guild members will collaborate on a beer to be released throughout the Central Valley on draft and in cans with all the proceeds going to the relief fund for the displaced Riley’s Brewing employees.
“The money will help replace small tools and equipment to get us back on our feet,” Riley said. “I want to make sure my guys are taken care of. We have put in blood, sweat and tears into this place. The least I can do is try to help them out.”
Riley took a couple of days to let things settle down after the fire and when he looked up, on Thursday at 4 p.m., almost two days since, he took time to drink some water (about a gallon, he said), and check his phone.
“I had 183 text messages. I didn’t realize I knew 183 people,” he said. “They were all people I knew. My email box was two hundred-ish. Hundreds of people reached out and offered me support.”
Because of the support he received, Riley has vowed to rebuild Riley’s Brewing.
“With all the outreach and support, I can’t stop. We’re definitely coming back. It’s just a hiccup,” he said. “We had people shake my hand and thank us for the hand sanitizer we gave out. It was amazing to see the reach we did. I never met these people and they drove out here just to shake my hand and say thank you for what we did and what can I do to help.
“It’s huge for me. I’ve never had so much outreach come out for me.”