A Family Business Brewing Up Community


David Sobel and his children developed a passion for home-brewing. As their homemade concoctions became popular with friends and family, David — who had spent 40 years working in insurance — saw the opportunity for a second career.

“He’s the type of guy who’s going to be working until the day he dies,” said his daughter, Jackie. “So what could he do that he’d find joy in?”

The answer was Sobel’s Obscure Brewery. They began with wholesale clients and soon set their sights on a brewpub. That’s where Jackie came in; she now runs the business with her father. “My father had a family business with his father, and my mother had a family business with her mother,” she said. “We wanted to have a family thing that we could grow together.”

Seeking a unique building somewhere that wasn’t already saturated with craft beer makers, they turned their sights to Jeannette, a small community with a beautiful downtown once known for its glass factories.

“It’s a beautiful downtown,” Jackie said. And it was plenty unique: The Sobels soon found a 1920s department store, complete with tin ceilings, dramatic pillars, and loads of natural light. “We knew instantly that it was our home.”

The Sobels purchased the building, and Bridgeway provided financing for its renovation into a fully operational brewpub, which they hope to have open by summer 2022. At over 18,000 square feet, the building is ripe with possibilities for expanded production and special events. Jackie has already gotten requests to host gatherings like high school reunions.

Jeannette has already rallied around the brewery. When Sobel’s lost 90 percent of its wholesale business due to COVID-19, they began selling beer from a folding table in the building’s garage. The setup turned into a small seasonal beer garden: an organic way to introduce folks to the brewery and its plans for the future. “The people of Jeannette have been so supportive and excited,” Jackie said. “Everybody is charged for growth here.”

 

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