We had the good fortune of connecting with Ben Law and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ben, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Before opening Brewery Draconum I was a stay at home dad with two kids who worked nights at the local BevMo. I was doing most of the household work ( cooking, cleaning, laundry, washing and sanitizing bottles etc etc..). My wife and I had talked about all the changes that would come with the opening of the business but nothing prepared us for how drastic a shift in the entire families lives it would be. For the first month or so we opened I was running the brewery with one employee during the day, 9-4 in the evening. Then we would open the restaurant at 4pm and I would manage the floor until we would close at 11 pm and not get home until midnight sometimes later. This left my wife who is a full time high school teacher / resource specialist, doing nearly EVERYTHING in the home. The shift was sever and truly lead to some serious issues with our marriage. I remember periods of time in the beginning where I had brought a sleeping bag and pillow to sleep on the office floor for days at a time. It was not a situation that could have lasted long without burning out and destroying my marriage. Fortunately for me, my sister, who had 20 years restaurant experience, came on board as a partner. I convinced her to leave her high school math teacher profession to come manage the restaurant which was the beginning of reaching towards that balance. As she started to take on more responsibilities it freed me up to start spending a more reasonable amount of time at work. That in turn gave me time to figure out a new structure in the home with the family. Now we are at a point where I have reached a healthy balance with work and home life. There will always be those times when there is extra needed, sometimes that means no days off one week or working a 12 or 16 hour day but at the end of the day its our business, we signed up for that. BUT that occurs less frequently and is more manageable. Ultimately what it comes down to is everyone needs help and I was lucky to have family to bring into the business. The finding of balance is I think extremely important. Though some people might have pie in the sky dreams of wealth when getting into the restaurant or brewing industry, most people in the industry know its not cash cow by any means. Yes there is money to be made but I wont be buying an island anytime soon. I say that just to iterate that ultimately the goal is to be able to make enough money to support the family and keep the business going. If you lose the balance and disrupt the family and potentially ruin the relationship to reach that level of success than there is no point to do it in the first place.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Here at Draconum we have a basic belief that there is a beer out there for everyone and it is our job to introduce the two. We are passionate about all beer styles new and old world. We still love our IPAs but there is such a diverse would of beer out there and we try to include as much diversity in our brewing as possible to really create an environment where there is something for everyone. We love using the beer in our cooking and pairing food and beer cause ultimately brewing beer is just another form of cooking when it comes down to it. They go hand and hand.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would definitely go to a Kings game GKG!!! Take in a Dodgers game, and then go to as many breweries as we could. I don’t get out much so I don’t know a lot of places outside of our little valley but I do love finding little hole in the wall mom and pop restaurants and just taking a chance with out looking at yelp or reviews or any of that nonsense. Sometimes its a breath of fresh air to just go try a spot you know nothing about and have no expectations for and just live the experience. You don’t always get a gem but when you do its a pretty awesome experience.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
If I gave a shout out to anyone it would be the local SBDC (small business development center). Out here in Santa Clarita the run out of the College of the Canyons. This is an amazing organization that unfortunately to many would be entrepreneurs are not aware of. They offer classes training and mentors in various different aspects of business all paid for by the government. It is an incredible resource for anyone looking to get into any kind of business. I learned a ton about business plan writing, finances, running a restaurant (Thanks to Kevin McVeary) and so much more. Shout out to Catherine Grooms who runs the local SBDC out by me. I highly recommend to anyone thinking of entering into business or even people already doing business that may need consulting, this is an amazing tool.
I also want to give a shout out to my Mom. She had my back through all of this supporting and helping me bring this dream to fruition. She was definitely a huge part of Draconum coming to pass.