As the battle between Old Town Brewing and the City of Portland on the brewery’s incontestable logo continues to wage on another local brewery is set to enter the legal fray.
In 2012, neighbors Jeff Seibel and Rob Ziebell founded Ghost Runners Breweryin Jeff’s backyard. After its initial small beginnings it has grown into a full-fledged brewery as it moved to its current location at 4216 NE Minnehaha Street in Vancouver, Washington in 2015.
The on March 24th of this year Ghost Runners Brewery announced that it will be part of the new Grant Street Pier development within The Waterfront planned community. To financially complete this deal Ghost Runners had brought on a new investor and now an owner in the brewery.
With all of this growth taking place for the brewery it needed a financial boost and this is now where things are proving difficult for the original owner. The turmoil has led to the brewery starting a GoFundMe page, Save Ghost Runners, to help raise legal funds it deems necessary to fight to retain its ownership in a pending legal battle against the brewery’s third owner and the founder and his wife.
On the brewery’s GoFundMe page Amy mentions a falling out with the brewery’s third owner as she describes as “BR” ended up becoming an owner in the brewery after investing in the brewery as far back as 2015. BR then had an option to convert his investment into ownership after a couple of years. This looks like what has happened.
Earlier this year, BR as Amy describes him, was added as an owner to the brewery’s LLC. Current Washington State LLC records show that Jeff and his wife Amy Seibel along with Brad Rummer are current owners of Ghost Runners Brewery. The addition of Brad Rummer to the brewery’s ownership was filed to the state of Washington on May 9, 2017.
The Seibel’s are now attempting to raise $20,000 for upcoming potential legal fees to assist them in keeping the brewery in their name. The upcoming court date is set for December 15, 2017.
Here are the complete details that Amy Seibel created on the brewery’s GoFundMe page Save Ghost Runners…
Founder of Ghost Runners Brewery, Jeff Seibel and his wife Amy need money for legal fees. On December 1st a minority owner of Ghost Runners (we will call him BR) filed a motion with the courts to have the company removed from their control despite the fact that the couple has operated the successful brewery for 5 years. The Seibels need to raise $15,000 immediately in order to retain a attorney who can handle the hearing, which is scheduled for December 15th. Legal fees are expected to be at least $20,000.
How did this happen? Running a business is hard and expensive. The Seibels have poured their time and money into the brewery since 2012. In 2015 they met BR. BR offered to invest in Ghost Runners Brewery in order to fund their expansion. BR had an option to convert his investment into ownership after a couple of years. In the beginning he was an investor, business mentor, and friend.
In December 2016 Ghost Runners was approached by Gramor development for a restaurant/brewpub at the new Vancouver Waterfront. The Seibels and BR all met with the developer and signed a lease for the location early 2017. The brewpub leaseholder is a separate company, yet 100% owned by Ghost Runners Brewery.
The Seibel’s and BR all had jobs. Jeff was designing the brewhouse system. Amy was working on the business plan and timelines. BR offered to secure bank financing for the project. In April 2017 BR asked if he could convert his investment into 40% ownership and since the threesome was working so well together, the Seibels added him as an minority owner to the company.
This is when things went wrong. BR did not find a bank loan. When bills became due he instructed the Seibels to pay the bills out of Ghost Runners Brewery money. He always promised that he would have funding soon but never did. By late June, the brewery had diverted too much money over to the restaurant opportunity and BR withdrew his offer to find a bank loan. He suggested that he would personally finance the restaurant but only if the ownership in the restaurant was turned over to him personally.
Over the last 4 months the Seibels have been trying to work things out with BR. He wants to own the restaurant and pay nothing for it. If BR wins, the courts will force Ghost Runners Brewery over to a court appointed receiver who will be tasked with selling off all the assets of the brewery (including the restaurant) and close down the parent company. The proposed court order for this action specifically allows the receiver to sell the restaurant to BR.
BR is using the courts to force Ghost Runners Brewery to shut down so he can take over the brewpub. He is using false accusations and his tremendous wealth to choke out a small, family owned craft brewery. Don’t let this happen!
Ghost Runners Brewery has a strong case to remain open with the Seibels operating the company. The Seibels have a strong counter claim against BR, who violated the company’s operating agreement and his fiduciary duties on more than one occasion. Help us fight for Ghost Runners Brewery. Any donation is appreciated, even a “pint” sized one. Please share this with anyone and everyone. Cheers to you and thank you for supporting us.
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 25 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in the archives of Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @hopapalooza.