In the early ’80s, Nantucket’s Cisco Brewers Inc. began its journey towards what they refer to as “global beverage domination.” First, they opened Nantucket Vineyard, then came Cisco Brewers in 1995, and then Triple 8 Distillery in 2000—all on Bartlett Farm Road in Nantucket. Today, their products are sold in 12 states, spanning from New England to Virginia. But despite Cisco’s intensely business-focused trajectory, they’ve maintained the quintessentially Nantucket, forever-chill vibe that they were founded on.
“[We’ve] always been a place where friends and family can let their guard down and enjoy beer, wine and spirits with their dog while catching some live music in an outdoor setting,” says Jay Harman, CEO of Cisco Brewers Inc. And they’re replicating that laid back island feel with their new full-service bar and restaurant at 4 Star Point at The Village, in Stamford’s Harbor Point, slated to open this spring.
MAKING THE MOVE
For Cisco—which also has locations in Nantucket, Boston, New Bedford, MA, and Portsmouth, NH—a waterfront site in Stamford was the perfect match, and was a long time coming. “This has always been our second biggest market behind the eastern seaboard of Massachusetts,” says Harman. “We see a huge influx of tourists from Fairfield County visiting Nantucket every summer, so it makes sense for us to target areas that know and love our brands.”
The appeal of Stamford also had to do with working with Wheelhouse Properties, the full-service luxury development company, says Harman. Wheelhouse—the developer of The Village—is known for bringing together the best in creative talent and helping foster a collaborative energy, so Cisco Brewers will be in good company.
“Having a marketing headquarters and home base in the area will be huge for our brands and will give us a place to showcase our products in a cool, relaxed nautical- themed space that connects the dots on a lot of levels,” says Harman.
KEEPING THE VIBE
Whether at popular surf spot Cisco Beach on Nantucket’s south shore—the location of Cisco Brewers’ flagship—or here in Stamford, the atmosphere will remain the same: “We’ve been known for an après beach party vibe,” Harman says. Cisco will also maintain its authenticity by calling in veteran employees. “People really love the culture that we’ve created, and we couldn’t do it without our crew, so that really is the Cisco secret sauce.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Cisco Brewers makes cult favorite beer. Their Whale’s Tale Pale Ale remains their front runner, but Shark Tracker Light Lager and Gripah IPA are big sellers as well. In fact, from the beginning their beer has been so popular that it has sold out quickly. “We never really made enough beer to support the demand,” Harman admits. “One year we ran out July 1st and just sold T-shirts to get through the summer. The back of the shirts read, ‘Nice beer, if you can get it.’ To this day even, we struggle to make enough.” But not to worry, the new location will feature the new releases—and plenty of Whale’s Tale.
Last year, Cisco Brewers also released Nantucket Craft Cocktails and have seen massive sales of their Cranberry and Blueberry Vodka Sodas. “We’ve been selling products off island since 1998 and have never witnessed a brand with such hockey stick growth,” Harman says. “It’s like lighting in a bottle—or a can, in this case.” For this summer, they’re working on a distilled agave spirit and more canned cocktails, like a vodka soda grapefruit. “To package the essence of Nantucket and be able to ship it to people in places that want to relive their summer island experience is a home run,” says Harman.