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The Mount Gretna Craft Brewery, which quickly carved out a niche for itself as a community gathering place and watering hole just outside Campbelltown, abruptly closed its doors this week and its owners do not plan to reopen.
“Sadly, it is true. We closed our doors today,” Allison Kleinfelter, who owns the establishment at 2701 Horseshoe Pike with her husband, Brad, told LebTown on Thursday.
In a message addressed to “friends & neighbors” and posted to social media on Feb. 16, the couple said they are “forever grateful” for the welcome the brewpub received from the community since it opened in 2017.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as a neighborhood gathering place for the community,” they said in the message. However, they said, “the past few years have been challenging for all of us. We have worked hard to navigate ups, downs and uncertainties – balancing the changing needs of our community, employees, business relationships and family.
“It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to close Mount Gretna Craft Brewery as of today – Thursday, February 16, 2023.”
Allison explained their reasons for closing in an interview on Friday morning.
“I think for all small businesses, the past few years have been a challenge, for everybody, for different reasons,” she told LebTown.
“During the peak of the pandemic we worked very hard to adjust our needs to the new reality,” she added. “But sometimes the hardest part coming out of something like that is the loss of support.”
Over the past few years, economic conditions have gotten worse for them, she said: the inflationary environment, labor costs, the availability of labor, shipping costs and other expenses.
“The cost of everything has gone up,” Allison said. “We used to pay $28 for a case of eggs. Now it’s over $90.”
Unfortunately, it’s not realistic to pass all of those costs onto the consumer, she said.
“We get it, no one wants to pay $20 for a hamburger,” she said. “That’s the struggle – not having a larger scale, we can’t continue to deliver what’s best for people at prices they can afford. Others with multiple sites and a much larger scale might be able to absorb those costs.”
“But we’re a single location, a family-owned business. The reality is we don’t have the scale to sustain all of the macroeconomic and people pressures that have changed over the past couple of years.”
“It’s been a difficult decision, and one we have looked at all different ways.”
It’s a far cry from November 2021, when a LebTown story revealed that Mount Gretna Craft Brewery was expanding its distribution area for its beers and was looking into the possibility of opening one or two new locations in the region.
Read More: Beer from Mount Gretna Craft Brewery gets regional distribution; owners plan for 2 new locations
“We had plans. The pandemic stopped all that,” Allison said. “We did the best we could through this time, but we just couldn’t continue at the pace we were going.”
Allison said she and Brad are heartbroken by the announcement.
“We love the community. We love being a gathering place,” she said. “That was part of our vision, our mission for being.”
She acknowledged that the closure was abrupt, but said “it was time” to cease operations.
“We have been planning for a while. We knew we needed to close,” Allison explained. “We would have loved to have mapped a longer timeline, but over the past couple of weeks, we could tell that timeline was shortening.
“We had to make a decision. We didn’t feel we could provide a good, positive experience for our patrons, and we didn’t want a bad last experience.”
Allison said they don’t have specific plans for the future.
Brad, she said, will focus his energies on cleaning up the business site, which was a new building in 2017. He also will continue to distribute the remaining beer they have in stock, which could still be available at local distributors and restaurants for another two months or so, Allison said.
“There’s a lot to do when you close,” she said. “We will provide more communication through Facebook and other channels as information becomes available.”
She, meanwhile, will continue her full-time job at Hershey Co.
Otherwise, she said, they plan to “take some time for family, to catch up on things we haven’t had time to do. We’re going to regroup for a while, take the remainder of this year and then figure out our next steps.”
They are listing the property for sale through NAI CIR, a commercial real estate agency based in Lemoyne. In the meantime, Ancestor Coffeehouse and Crêperie will remain open, according to a post shared on Facebook. Ancestor, which has an original location in North Cornwall Township, took over the Campbelltown coffee shop in 2020.
“(The property) is pretty turnkey for someone who might be interested,” Allison said. “We’re very hopeful that someone is looking to be a community gathering place. … We hope we can work with somebody to take over.”
She noted that “the outpouring” of supportive comments on social media since their announcement “has been heartwarming.”
“It definitely was a teary day for our family,” Allison said. “Sometimes you don’t know how much something is appreciated until it is gone.
“We were overwhelmed, touched and beyond surprised by the comments from the community. It filled our hearts in every way. … and gave us a big sense of peace.”
It’s a tough environment for small businesses to survive, she added, and she and Brad “are proud of what we did.”
“We created a gathering place, and we have been truly humbled and honored,” she said. “When you look back on how many moments we’ve been able to be a part of for people — that’s why we did it.
“We look forward to continue being a part of it, as people in the community.”
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