Last September, Boom Island Brewing Co. owner Kevin Welch seized upon a tragedy to explain why his beer operation needed to move.
A shooting that killed one man and left others injured had occurred near Welch's business. The violence actually occurred at Cliff N Norm's Bar, next door to Boom Island's address, but Welch considered it a last straw for his business in that neighborhood.
Opened in 2011, Boom Island moved to north Minneapolis in 2013. Welch told City Pages he'd determined violent crime "hasn't changed for the better." Police stats from 2018 didn't quite agree with that assessment, but in an interview with the Star Tribune, Welch defended his desire to move by expressing concern about the people he'd hired.
"It would have been some complete innocent bystander walking out," Welch said of his worst-case-scenario fears.
Welch's characterization of an "innocent" victim is an interesting one. According to another Star Tribune story, the man fatally shot that night, 42-year-old Steven Fields, hadn't done anything to cause his violent death:
Vernell Fields said Monday that his son, who was born and raised in Minneapolis and worked at a hotel, was outside the bar smoking a cigarette when an altercation inside spilled outside.
“They killed my son,” the elder Fields said. “My son is not a violent person; he’s not into that.”
Welch's numerous quotes in media around that time express heaps of concern about his customers, employees, and business. If he felt much for Steven Fields or his family, we're unable to find it at this time.
“How much worse can it get when you leave on Friday night, and there’s bullets flying around?” Welch asked, rhetorically, in explaining his "extremely dire" need to relocate from "the area." At that time, Welch didn't specify just where he was looking.
Now we know the answer: Minnetonka, where Boom Island will eventually open in a strip mall location, as recently reported in the local paper.
And as of last month, Welch is... whistling a very different tune:
This passion is what led Welch and his wife to move their business — Boom Island Brewing — out of Minneapolis to a small business strip in Minnetonka, where their neighbors will be an animal rescue rather than pubs and restaurants. Density has always been an issue in Minneapolis, he said.
“The problem is we’ve outgrown our space,” Welch said. “If you came over to look at our place, there’s just pallets on top of pallets. We don’t have enough room over there. So the real priority was to get a space that has enough room to accommodate the amount of production we’re looking to do.”
Welch said the brewery has been thinking about moving for about two years as the brewery has outgrown its Minneapolis location in terms of brewing space and space for customers.
Let's review. In September it was "I'm afraid for my employees' and customers' safety!" By May, that had become: "We don't have enough room," and "Density is an issue."
Which one's true? Maybe a little of both -- or maybe it's got something to do with the argument made by this evidently well-informed Reddit user, who said, at the time of Welch's announcement about moving, that some of Welch's problems might be self-inflicted:
I live in Minneapolis, and have worked in craft beer for 12 years. I got lambasted for saying this in the Minnesota sub, but Boom Island's failures have absolutely nothing to do with their location, and everything to do with their inability to make beer that is up to the standard that other breweries in the area have set.
Should Kevin Welch be complaining to city reporters about crime in one of the safer large cities in America? Should he be bragging to suburban reporters about outgrowing an urban space?
Should he or anyone in business announce plans to crowd-source their next business move instead of, like, taking out a loan or finding investors?
Is his beer any good?
All we know for sure is he's super-excited to get started in his massive new suburban strip mall space, and we wish him the best out there.