Words & Deeds

‘We bled out’: Downtown Boise bar closed after construction slowed business, owner says

When Bru opened in 2018, co-owner Debbie Kessler thought she had a promising concept — a self-serve beer bar.

If you craved a cold one, you poured it yourself from 30 automated taps. Or you could buy as little as an ounce.

But then jackhammers and tarps showed up outside this year. Construction on the Main + Marketplace building created distractions starting in spring, she says. Business began slowing.

As a result, Bru, 132 N. 8th St, closed at the end of July.

“It was just not getting enough people in there,” she says. “We had five months with no sign — and then all this construction. So we bled out.”

Competition in the craft-beer segment has grown fierce in Downtown Boise. A nearby self-serve beer bar, The Drop, opened earlier this year at 1001 W. Main St.

Bru opened in July of 2018. Bru

But Kessler says building renovations are what spelled the end for Bru.

“That is the main reason,” she says. “We couldn’t wait it out.”

Bru’s sales were around $25,000 each month when it opened, she says. When it closed? “Closer to $11,000.”

Initially at Bru, there was a hostess, a beer expert and a pizza cook. By the end, Kessler says, she and her husband, Tod, had been forced to let go of employees and worked at Bru themselves.

Still, there’s hope for local beer geeks. The self-pour beer equipment is still there. It’s owned by a lender, Kessler says.

It might make sense for the space to be reopened as the same type of business.

Either way, the owners won’t be the Kesslers.

“It’s super painful to close it,” she says, “for sure.”

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Michael Deeds is an entertainment reporter and columnist at the Idaho Statesman, where he also has been a sportswriter, entertainment editor and features editor. Deeds co-hosts “The Other Studio,” a one-hour music show, at 8 p.m. Sundays on 94.9 FM The River.