Portsmouth Brewery for sale: Owners won’t reopen after flood – Seacoastonline.com

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PORTSMOUTH — The owners of the beloved Portsmouth Brewery, a staple of the city’s downtown for decades, will not reopen the brewpub after a pipe burst, flooded and shuttered the business nearly one year ago.

Peter Egelston and Joanne Francis, the 33-year-old business’ co-owners and partners, announced the closure Thursday. The couple put the 48-56 Market St. commercial and residential property up for sale, listed for $8.125 million.

Hailed as New Hampshire’s first craft brewery, the downtown bar, restaurant and lounge has served over 7.5 million pints of beer since its 1991 inception, according to its owners, who say they employed more than 3,000 people and served millions of guests.

Peter Egelston and Joanne Francis, owners of the Portsmouth Brewery, say they will not reopen the business following flood damage last year.

To bring the business back, however, was a monumental task after the June 2023 pipe rupture, and it proved too costly.

“Our insurance would have paid to return the place to the condition it was in five minutes before the pipe broke, with an additional allowance for code upgrades, but that allowance had a limit, and the upgrades required by the city would have exceeded that,” Egelston said in a prepared statement. “Try as we might to find a way around it, at the end of the day, this simple arithmetic forced our hand.”

“Before the flood, Peter and I had already been contemplating the next chapter in our lives and we were exploring the idea of selling our business,” Francis added in a prepared statement. “After all, we’ve been here for 33 years, and we were thinking it might be a good time to hand the place over to new owners. This was not the scenario we envisioned, but it appears the universe had other plans.”

Portsmouth Brewery property marketed, including residences

The property has been listed for sale by Duston Leddy Real Estate. The commercial portion of the multi-million-dollar listing includes two separate, 19th century buildings combining for more than 9,000 square feet, along with three two-bedroom apartments and two one-bedroom units upstairs in both buildings.

The site comes with four to six parking spaces and is located a short distance from the High-Hanover parking garage. 

“Presenting the former home of the Portsmouth Brewery, an esteemed icon of the city’s landscape, this distinguished property offers a blend of rich history, prime location, and versatile commercial and residential spaces, making it an unparalleled investment opportunity,” the listing states. 

Franics and Egelston open to selling Portsmouth Brewery business as well as property

Egelston and Francis said they don’t plan to reopen and rebuild the iconic bar and eatery themselves, but they don’t rule out the possibility it could be reopened by a buyer, either as a package at the same location, or in a new location. The said the business was “going strong right up until a broken water pipe changed everything.”

Thousands of gallons of water cascaded down into the business the night of June 17, 2023 after a two-inch fire suppression pipe above the second-floor apartment’s ceiling burst open. Several inches of water covered the business’ dining room by the end of the 20-minute flooding event, requiring Servpro to be on scene to begin cleanup efforts the next day. 

The Portsmouth Brewery’s retail store alongside the business remained open, with the brewpub’s staffers taking shifts in teams of two to sell beer, apparel and merchandise as the brewery was closed. In an interview a few weeks after the pipe burst and subsequent closure, Egelston and Francis stated they hoped to reopen the business around the start of 2024.

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A note to the community has hung on the front doors of the brewery since last summer.

“We look forward to serving you, our beloved community, as soon as possible,” it reads in part. “Thank you for your kind thoughts and well wishes.”

The co-owners said if the business is not sold, the Portsmouth Brewery’s assets, furnishings and equipment will be sold separately. Special items, artwork and memorabilia from the brewery will be listed for sale on the business’ website in the weeks to come. 

Fond memories for Portsmouth Brewery owners

Egelston and his sister, Janet, founded the business on June 1, 1991. Exactly 30 years later, he and Francis welcomed Gov. Chris Sununu for the start of their anniversary year festivities, pouring Portsmouth Brewery specialties such as the Libeeration Ale, Francis’ own concoction. 

“We always lived by our motto: ‘We serve all types,’” Egelston said. “We’ve entertained guests from all over the world, but we took the greatest pride in serving our community. The Brewery was always a public house in the best sense of the word, where people gathered to meet friends, celebrate special occasions, and even conduct business.” 

“A lot of memories have been made at The Brewery,” Francis said. “Over the years, people have shared stories about meeting their significant others, celebrating milestones, and wild tales that could fill a book. And while it’s sad to no longer have such a meaningful relationship with our incredible staff and appreciative guests, we’re hopeful our creative and nurturing spirits will find new and different outlets. Cheers to all for the beautiful run we’ve had!”

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