CORRECTION: This story was updated on Nov. 13 to show that Mill Creek was three months behind on rent. Context about the brewery’s closing was also added. The Home Page apologizes for the error.
The Nolensville beer company Mill Creek Brewing was behind on months of rent payments and property taxes before closing its doors this week.
According to a lawsuit filed by Mill Creek’s landlord earlier this month, the company owed nearly $120,000 in unpaid rent, late fees and interest through October 2019.
That number includes about three months of unpaid rent — and some late fees and interest — for the brewery and tap room located on Johnson Industrial Boulevard in Nolensville. The company was paying about $16,700 per month in rent.
Despite the debt, Mill Creek founder Chris Going said the landlord was also a shareholder who helped support the business.
“We've always had a good relationship with him. His hand was kind of forced in this whole matter,” he said. “Because our landlord has an interest in the company, all along the way he graciously allowed us to pay rent late, things like that.”
In addition, the Williamson County Trustee’s Office shows that the company still owes several thousand dollars in property taxes from 2018 and 2019. The 2018 taxes were due last February, and taxes for this year are due in February 2020.
Going said the business took some expensive risks he now regrets, such as exporting beer to nearby states. He also pointed to Nolensville’s regulations limiting the number of days the tap room could operate. Those regulations motivated the company to open expensive taprooms outside the city.
“It takes a lot more effort and a lot more dollars to make those things work versus just opening your doors,” he said. “You can't really pinpoint it to any one specific thing. ... If we hadn't had these restrictions we would have made a lot of different decisions."
Despite those challenges, the company reported its first profitable month earlier this year.
While Mill Creek is closing down, the beer won’t immediately disappear, and Going hopes the brand can make a comeback.
Going said he plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which will allow the brewery to continue to operate. The company’s distributor has lots of beer in stock, and the brewery’s tanks are filled with beer that will be canned or kegged.
Given the company’s visibility, especially in the Nashville market, Going said he believes the brand is still valuable. He’s already met with a number of parties interested in buying the brand and assets. If they move quickly, they could conceivably revive the brand before the beer runs out.
“There's a lot of discussions going on behind the scenes,” he said. “We're trying to figure out a way to bring this back, and do so quickly before beer runs out in the marketplace.”