Archive for Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Free State Brewery Co. takes ‘unique’ approach

October 10, 2001


Company: Free State Brewing Co., 636 Mass.

Owner: Chuck Magerl, proprietor and principal owner.

Number of employees: 107

Years in business: Free State started brewing beer in late 1988 and opened for business in February 1989.

Main products and services: Free State opened as the first legal brewery in Kansas since 1880, and today it offers a full selection of specialty beers that are brewed on site. The business also is a full-service restaurant for both lunch and dinner, with a focus on natural ingredients. "Our food is not prepackaged, and neither are our people," Magerl said.

Why is the Lawrence area a good place for the business? "Lawrence has a population that's well traveled and adventurous and is eager to embrace businesses that provides people with a unique treat," Magerl said. "Lawrence really answers that call of being a special location in the Midwest."

What are the company's growth plans? "We're not as inclined to replicate our current business as much as we are to develop into accessory businesses," he said. "WheatFields (a bakery and caft 904 Vt., which he co-owns) was a good example of that other businesses that embrace the same commitment to fresh, flavorful foods."

Where do you see the business in five years? "We would anticipate still having the features people appreciate here at Free State, increasing the complexity of our menus and beers, and yet having another one or two allied businesses in the fold with us here in Lawrence," Magerl said.

Something you may be surprised to learn about the business: "People don't think of restaurant employees as professionals, yet we have servers here who are in our 401(k) program; we have dishwashers who have health insurance and paid vacations," Magerl said. "It's a respected part of running our business. We also are very environmentally dedicated and compost all of our food and paper waste generated in our restaurant."

If you have a business or employee with a story to tell, contact Mark Fagan, business editor, at (785) 832-7188 or

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