Craft Beer Cellar Reviews

Updated Nov 19, 2019

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2.1
26%
Recommend to a Friend
  1. "Great place for a beer lover."

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Beer Geek 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Craft Beer Cellar part-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Been working here for 6 months now. It is a very structured environment, with defined daily work. Lenient and relaxed atmosphere with no limit on breaks. Free beer samples (although could be more).

    Cons

    Beer is constant changing and keeping up is a challenge, There are always free beer samples, but when you have to keep up with lots of beer and have to pay out of pocket for some (even though employees get to buy at cost), it can add up.

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  2. Helpful (1)

    "Every Day is an Adventure and not in a good way"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
     
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Craft Beer Cellar

    Pros

    As a franchise owner you learn so much about running all aspects of a business. At first when you sign up for a franchise you think you are getting all kinds of support and structure. You aren’t.

    Cons

    Recently hired an owner of a failing franchise to be a COO. Support is limited to a COO and a “CEO” with no other employees. What kind of company has a CEO and a COO and nothing else. Oh sorry I forgot about their Board of Directors, a former intern, a beer company rep and the co-founders. So there is a Board of Directors, a CEO and a COO......and no one else. As for the CEO, there is so much to be said but in reality the other reviews don’t do her justice. There is no point to piling on more because there really are no words to describe her.

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  3. Helpful (8)

    "We have lost everything"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Franchise Owner 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Craft Beer Cellar full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Super fun industry, always something new to learn. Meeting great people both on the brewery/distribution and customer end.

    Cons

    Long hours, 7 days a week. Lack of income. Business model not sustainable in that craft beer is now available everywhere. Lack of support from management. I could write several pages, but suffice to say I agree with all the other 'cons' that have been listed by owners/franchise operators.

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  4. Helpful (3)

    "Great place to learn about beer"

    3.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 

    I worked at Craft Beer Cellar part-time

    Pros

    We were overly helpful, which was a great opportunity to practice excellent customer service as we made it our goal to be as knowledgable about each beer in the store. The location I worked at had weekly tastings, which gave me a great opportunity to speak with the brewery reps and learn even more about what beers they were sampling and the brewery itself. Customers were always very pleasant to work with.

    Cons

    I had very little training on information about the beers we sold, so pretty much everything I learned about what we carried was by myself. It was also very difficult to keep up with every new beer that we got.

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  5. Helpful (1)

    "Location importance"

    4.0
     

    I have been working at Craft Beer Cellar

    Pros

    I have had some good successes with my store. I feel we are located in a good location, and that aspect has a lot to do with individual store success. The nice thing about CBC is the consistency that customers can come to expect across the brand, that they can’t find elsewhere. We are also sometimes offered access to beers that don’t get offered to other stores. I believe this is because of our collective respect and treatment of beer in general. Our stores set certain expectations, which breweries care about. I’ve found that so many customers gravitate to us in ways they don’t with our competitors. We are THE spot for mixed offerings, a warm welcome, and knowledgeable interactions. The brand level has some resources that can aid in store marketing or operations that may not exist on other levels or outside of brand. For example, graphics people, tech people, and educational people. It is nice to have access to someone who can make graphics both for online and print/sign purposes. I do not personally have that skill-set. Luckily, the group has managed to attract great individual store owners who do right by their customers. I can say that the individual store owners are excellent people. Smart, kind, customer-oriented, and attentive. I feel I’m among a great crowd. This is an important aspect of this group that can’t be found elsewhere. There are few examples of this type of business model that care about beer the way that CBC does. We are also able to effectively run fairly independently. There are some brand guidelines in place, but they will allow you to enjoy the successes of running your business and growing it. I have been able to open in a strategic spot and grow my business and reputation among my customers. If you have a great location, you can do well and enjoy some great beer!

    Cons

    Sometimes the brand doesn't fully share information or reasons for decisions to stores.

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  6. Helpful (21)

    "Buying into franchise NOT recommended"

    1.0
     
    Doesn't Recommend

    I worked at Craft Beer Cellar

    Pros

    Lasting relationships built with other store owners, customers and distributors. Fun community.

    Cons

    Inflated projections and falsely low expected start-up costs makes it pencil out that you can actually make a go at this. Actual sales are at least 50% less than what they project and start-up costs are significantly more. Franchisors will try to entice you that they have such #madluv and support and one big happy family. We were promised a real estate professional that was supposedly part of the “Brand team” would come help us make sure we found the best location based on demographics. That never happened and as it turns out that person does not exist. The “Brand team” itself has zero consistency as far as the actual team. The only two constant are the founders, Kate and Suzanne. No one else seems to stick around very long. When asking for help to figure out how to be profitable (which by the way never happened) we were told to keep posting on social media and cut labor dollars. Pretty hard to cut labor dollars when working as Owners and not taking a paycheck. There’s nothing there to cut. If you are looking to just throw a bunch of money away with no return, then this is the franchise for your. Otherwise—steer clear and invest somewhere else.

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  7. Helpful (12)

    "Other negative reviews are spot on. Worst decision and years of our lives."

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Craft Beer Cellar full-time

    Pros

    The Craft Beer industry is full of great people... just not them.

    Cons

    So my review would be of the Franchise side of the business and echoing everything the others have said. I’ll add some copy paste from the others to highlight the main points then add a few of my own. “Where to start? No matter how much I write here, it won't ever be complete. All problems stem from Suzanne Schalow and how she runs Craft Beer Stellar. Stellar is the company that runs the Craft Beer Cellar franchise.” “The franchise program is an utter mess. The sales projections are off by 50% or more, and the costs are off by that much too. There is little to no support from "the brand", and with such a high turnover rate at the brand level there's no continuity of opinions or long term ideas other than "sell more beer, strictly adhere to anything we say." Have an idea? Suzanne will belittle you and call you names.” “The brand management is a mess, mostly at the hands of Suzanne Schalow. The Mismanagement by brand has led to a revolving door of brand staff leaving. Demanding people sign non competes is asinine. The support for franchises is poor with Suzanne constantly threatening to take over franchises and put stores in default. If you are interested in owning a franchise, the low margins and long hours and temperamental headquarters make this one to stay away from.” “I have to sadly agree with the other cons. Besides the economics of the franchisee business which is terrible, having to deal with Suzanne and her massive ego along with her passive aggressive remarks is enough reason to run away. Once she has your money, you are nothing to her. Its on to the next one. Do yourself a favor and run away she is not a nice person. Which is very surprising sine all she preaches is having #madluv.” “Another thing that we were told was that we would have the help of a real estate agent to aid us and help out in our search for a building. Also, we were led to believe that since we signed on to a "nationally known" beer store chain, we would be able to reap the rewards in the form of increased leverage with the distributors, which means easier access to the more hard to get beers. None of that even came close to happening, and we had to do all the work ourselves, which was fine, but don't sell us or others on what amounted to empty promises.” Me: So seeing all the above comments and many others from previous reviews solidifies and justifies my feelings all along. I’ll add that they (The Brand) have, or at least at the time, had no idea of other markets outside of Mass. What works in Mass. doesn’t necessarily work in other states with different laws. The initial order of stock was a haphazard effort by Kate just going down the list and checking off what she knew sells at their store with zero regard to what sells in any other state/area. We had beer that sat for months on the shelf after opening and had to discard finally. Guess what people don’t buy Sam Adams from a craft beer store when they can get it from Sam’s Club for less than what we pay for it as a retailer. In Mass. they have/had favorable laws that don’t exist elsewhere e.g., only 3 branches/locations of a grocery store can sell beer (or something pretty close to this). Guess what? Every store sells beer here and they all get access to the same beer we can with very few exceptions. So not only are you competing with BevMo, ABC, XYZ and Total Wine, you are also competing with Walmart, Safeway, Krogers, Winn Dixie, Sam’s Club, Costco, Publix etc etc. Do your due diligence and look into this before opening a beer store at all let alone giving these guys $25k for a pdf of a logo and regulations that are counterproductive to making money. For instance we couldn’t sell Pumpkin or “Fall” beer until a certain date (1 Sept. If I remember correctly). In the mean time every store in the area is selling it by August 1st the latest. So we miss out on 30 days of sales during one of the most beer crazed seasons. They’ll also watch your social media posts and inspect the pictures to see if they can spot a foul in the background and let you know about it. Speaking of social media they claim to be such experts and will criticize your posts yet you know the local market and the behaviors of your clientele. Yet one of our original posts would get say 100 interactions and one of their “expert” posts might get 5. The POS is just that a POS. It has it’s place and is fairly robust but archaic, cumbersome and not easily learned. Their are so many better and easier solutions out there for the simple operation of a beer store, but you are bound to their system. Also the credit card processor, World Pay, is another bone of contention. Several stores had local processors show then how they could save money in processing fees, in some cases a considerable amount. They won’t hear of it at all as I’m sure they get special rates for the millions of dollars of Franchisee’s business that is processed, and possibly some kickbacks. As far as support if you are local within a couple hours drive you will get some “support” and visits from the team. Out of state, forget it, zero visits in 4 years. Although we and most others probably prefer it that way. I could go on but it only brings up bad memories of the money and years wasted, having to deal with them and how horrible of a person Suzanne is.

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  8. Helpful (14)

    "Worst decision of my life."

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Franchisee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Craft Beer Cellar full-time

    Pros

    Geeking out over beer. Building relationships with breweries and customers.

    Cons

    This review is about Craft Beer Stellar, the parent company of the Craft Beer Cellar franchises. There is no business listing for Craft Beer Stellar on glassdoor. Do. Not. Join. This. Franchise. Where to start? No matter how much I write here, it won't ever be complete. All problems stem from Suzanne Schalow and how she runs Craft Beer Stellar. Stellar is the company that runs the Craft Beer Cellar franchise. She will promise you the world. She'll give you the same business projections she gives every franchise regardless of your location. It's based on Belmont's sales, a store that's established and has been in business for 7 years. Belmont is one of the few successful stores. The estimated build out costs are a joke. On the low end they say you can open a store with just $35,000. $25,000 of that is the franchise fee. How the heck can you open a retail store with just $10,000? At least 3 locations have closed, that I know of. That's a 10% closure rate. Many stores are not profitable. If you're interested, call all the franchise locations and ask their owners for yourself! Save yourself! Do your own research! There are no systems. They sell you out dated piece of crap point of sale software. She'll give you an operations manual that basically tells you the basics of running a retail store. Swap out the name "Craft Beer Cellar" and this manual works for any business. There is nothing proprietary or even terribly specific to selling beer. It's got some basics on office supplies to stock up on and how many cooler doors your fridge should have. Nothing in there helps you make money. The online "system" is horrendous on a good day. Suzanne claims that Belmont has successful online sales. I've yet to find any other store in the franchise that has meaningful online sales. Most stores turned it off due to the "system" selling things that are out of stock or never even stocked in their store. Some just don't deal with it because it's so hard to use. Once you're open, the brand isn't there for you. They don't have your back. Just the opposite. You're on your own! Sometimes you ask for help and the answer you get from Suzanne, and I quote "Sorry! We were too busy running our Belmont store to help you". That's right, she's running the franchise and on the floor running the Belmont location. Guess which one takes priority? They changed their logo and identity and are forcing all stores to change all of their signage, even if they just opened. No franchisees were contacted about this to get feedback from them or their customers. They seem to be turning their back on Cicerone. The implemented a new education program that is almost the same as the Cicerone program. It has 4 levels of certification and, Beercierge. All employees and franchise owners are required to take this test now. It's not free. We have to pay for it. Suzanne promised us months ago that we'd get a syllabus and study guides so we can pass the test. Alas, she hasn't sent anything. That's how it goes. Promises never followed through on. Nothing the brand does helps raise revenue for the franchisees. They just implement things that cost the stores more money. New signage. New education. Monthly technology fees over the royalty fee. Requirement to purchase new branded merch from Belmont. So much more to say! Get ready to get yelled at, made fun of, sent inappropriate images, threatened, and/or sued. That's what happens when you question Suzanne. Oh yeah. Kate is the other co-founder. I don't hear from her anymore. Is she still involved?

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  9. Helpful (14)

    "Buyer Beware!!"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Owner 

    I worked at Craft Beer Cellar full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Relationships built with other members of the craft beer community.

    Cons

    I have to sadly agree with the other cons. Besides the economics of the franchisee business which is terrible, having to deal with Suzanne and her massive ego along with her passive aggressive remarks is enough reason to run away. Once she has your money, you are nothing to her. Its on to the next one. Do yourself a favor and run away she is not a nice person. Which is very surprising sine all she preaches is having #madluv. Don't be fooled that is nothing more than a marketing term with ZERO substance behind it. She claims to have jedi mind trick powers to get people to do what she wants. I finally figured out what she meant by that. She will simply lie to your face and not flinch. Well done Suzanne! The force is strong with you! It's true if you come to her with a question or suggestion she will take it way too personally and belittle you in the process. You don't get any help from the brand what so ever.

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  10. "Staff"

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Beer Geek in Westford, MA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Craft Beer Cellar full-time for more than 3 years

    Pros

    Awesome work culture, great exposure to beer, terrific owners, excellent pay.

    Cons

    The beer is constantly changing, requires a lot beer purchases out of your own pocket and drinking at lot at home with the idea of remembering it so you can speak to selling it later to customers.

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Found 15 reviews