WESTWOOD, N.J. (WCBS 880) -- Chris Alepa had the idea seven years ago to open a craft brewery at the Westwood, New Jersey, location that was home to the family-owned L.N. Grand 5 & 10 Cent Store for 60 years. That became a reality in April, and Five Dimes Brewery's early success is exceeding Alepa's wildest dreams.
"When we finally opened the doors, it was a rush to get in," he said. "It was a good, good feeling."
On the 250th Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, Alepa explained to WCBS 880 that his goal was to connect neighboring businesses in Westwood and communities in surrounding towns.
"You're seeing the restaurant next door and the one around the corner, and they're all having some of the best business they ever had. Even the Irish pub that first might have thought it was a competition thing has been doing fantastic. It's only helped their business."
Five Dimes Brewery has a "BYOF" policy or "bring your own food," which the owner sees is helping local eateries.
"We had people from Greenwood Lake the other day, we had people coming from Rockland County, we had a couple guys coming from Brooklyn. So people are coming from all the different areas now. They want to check the place out. And I think that's been great for the whole community, putting Westwood on the map and opening the door to see what else the town has to offer."
Alepa ran into an unusual problem when he opened his craft brewery to such high demand: it ran out of beer.
"We could not find kegs anywhere in America," he said.
"Once we make our beer, we need to move it out of the tanks, into the kegs, and then, make more so we have a good supply. Well, we didn't have that ability. All the kegs we would try to get, we couldn't get. We finally found them in Canada, they got shipped to us, they got held up at U.S. Customs for 30 days," Alepa explained.
Five Dimes Brewery temporarily closed for several days to rebuild their keg supply. They also hired more workers.
The craft brewery has a rooftop deck where they host private events. They also host tours where you can watch the brewing process in-house.
Home-brewing became widely popular during the COVID-19 pandemic and it has long been a hobby of the founder.
"I'm a chiropractor by training," said Alepa. "I still do that, but this has been a passion. I've been home-brewing and I always thought this would be awesome for the community."
The entrepreneur also operates Select Wellness, LLC a separate chiropractic, physical therapy and acupuncture practice with locations in Westwood and Fair Lawn. But, he is scaling back to follow his passion of running Five Dimes Brewery.
The company is now canning its popular IPAs, lagers and pilsners for retail.
See what makes Five Dimes Brewery a hit on the 250th Small Business Spotlight video above.