Capital Cider House hero

“There's a great Eisenhower quote: ‘Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.’ I think that's very true. Everything changes so much.”

Jared Fackrell isn't a cider snob, but he does care a lot about cider.

However, until he took a family vacation to the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York in the summer of 2016, he didn't have much exposure to the world of cider beyond the national brands carried in the grocery store.

“Toward the end of that trip, we happened upon a cider house,” he says. “I ended up being completely floored by how different all of these ciders were, and how they were drinking more like white wine, and had really complex tasting notes. I was completely struck by how different this was than anything I'd ever tasted before that'd been called cider.”

“I was completely struck by how different this was than anything I'd ever tasted before that'd been called cider.”

From there, his interest grew. He began to develop a passion not only for drinking cider and the culture surrounding it, but for making his own as well.

“One thing sort of led to another after that,” says Jared. “I figured out how to make it, built the equipment to process the fruit, broke all that equipment multiple times, rebuilt it, etcetera, etcetera. I just sort of ran with it, and here we are.”

Now, Jared is on the cusp of opening his own cider business: Capitol Cider House. It has been a labor of love, built on an ethos of sustainability, locally‐sourced ingredients, and the desire to create an accessible community gathering place.

Outside Capitol Cider
Outside Capitol Cider.

The path to becoming a small business owner

He didn't necessarily imagine that he'd open a cider house, however—and since he didn't have a background in hospitality or small business, “a lot of it was learning from scratch.”

“I'd always wanted to do something entrepreneurial.”

So, he leaned heavily on mentors to guide him through the process. Using a combination of cold calls and “just walking into people's restaurant or bar and just striking a conversation and following up afterward,” Jared was able to learn a great deal about the space he planned to enter from successful industry veterans. This, coupled with the free small business mentorship services, helped him learn about the process of launching a business from those who had been there before.

However, Jared knew money would be tight, and that he wouldn't be relying on investors to launch his cider house. “We don't have the luxury of a lot of people that launch restaurants where money doesn't matter too much, because they have a bunch of investors,” he says. “We don't have that. We've had to look for very creative ways of financing.”

For this, Jared needed a business plan—so he turned to LivePlan.

Jared, with his cider barrels
Jared, with his cider barrels.

Using LivePlan to validate and secure funding

The summer trip to the Finger Lakes was the catalyst for Jared's interest in cider. In September, he found LivePlan and began working on a business plan.

“[I've used LivePlan for] insurance applications, and then also for license purposes in the city.”

He knew that a plan would be essential in order to get any needed financing beyond friends and family, to sign a lease on a location, and to get the necessary permits and licensing. “It's been used quite extensively, in different forms,” he says. “[I've used it for] insurance applications, and then also for license purposes in the city.”

Initially, he thought about using a business plan template. “I realized how cumbersome that would be, and considered doing everything out of Excel, and then I was like, ‘Well, that's going to be a pain to manage,’” he says. “It was fairly clear early on that I could just draft a business plan textually in a word processing software environment and then do some financial calculations in another program‐it just would have been very difficult, and difficult to change going forward.”

So, the convenience of LivePlan was an attractive solution. Since LivePlan connects with QuickBooks and Xero, it makes it easier to create smarter forecasts quickly. This allows for easy changes as the business grows and shifts—or, as in Jared's case, as he continues to learn more once his doors are officially open. Plus, since LivePlan makes it easy to present financial data visually in charts and graphs, it's easy to keep a finger to the pulse of the health of the business.

Cider in the making
Cider in the making.

The value of the planning process

“I'm not one to just say ‘Here's a large hole and I'm just going to dump a bunch of money into it,’” says Jared. “I think the foremost component of it was, ‘Is this going to work? Can this work?’”

So, while Jared needed a business plan for practical reasons, writing a business plan also helped him validate his business idea.

“There's a great Eisenhower quote: ‘Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable,’” says Jared. “I think that's very true. Everything changes so much. We're not going to really know till we have doors open which direction we're going to take it in.”

Building on a sustainable foundation

Capitol Cider House is built on the strong foundation of Jared's commitment to creating a locally‐sourced product, coupled with an unfussy, unpretentious atmosphere.

His devotion to his craft is evident, as is his wish to bring a cider to his community that has been built around an appreciation for local apple varieties that date back to the Colonial era.

“Regionally, Virginia and Pennsylvania are two of the six largest apple growing states in the country,” he says. “There's a really rich history of it. There are apples that were very much a part of Thomas Jefferson's time, George Washington's time, and the Colonial era, that have been either rediscovered or replanted recently. There's a really deep history in this region in particular.”

His wish is to highlight these varietals front and center with his cider—a move that also allows him to keep the ingredients local. “We're going to make and curate sustainability sourced ciders, so we're defining that as using apples found within 200 miles of the U.S. Capitol building—that's the namesake,” he says.

Jared has put a lot of time and effort into building connections with local growers. “Starting soon after that trip, I started driving out to all of the cideries in the Mid‐Atlantic, getting a sense of the quality across the board, meeting the growers, and forging relationships to secure fruit once we're open,” he says. “All of this so I could know the stories behind each of these different products.”

The commitment to locally‐sourced ingredients isn't the path of convenience—Jared notes that it would be much easier to simply buy apple juice in bulk quantities from overseas or the West Coast, and “just throw it in a stainless steel tank on site and then call it whatever.” However, Capitol Cider isn't in the business of creating any old cider.

“This is a way to be a little bit more conscious about where things are coming from,” says Jared. “It sort of gets back to knowing where your food is grown, how it was grown, and how it came to you. It's giving people an option. If that's important to them, then that's something they can find with us.”

While still under construction, Capitol Cider will be open for business soon
While still under construction, Capitol Cider will be open for business soon.

Like fine wine

Because the cider at Capitol Cider House will be made on‐site, Jared looks forward to being able to share his cider‐and the moment‐with his community.

“It's getting back to really enjoying and opening that bottle of wine, to get to share that with everyone. From whole fruit to drinking a glass, right there,” he says. “When you open a bottle of wine, to get to that point, there's an immense amount of work that has to happen. Just getting an appreciation of that and being able to share that.”

“There's sort of a renaissance that's going on; I want to encourage that and not make it pretentious or cost prohibitive to partake.”

He hopes that Capitol Cider House will serve as a place to share this experience in a way that is friendly and accessible. “I'm not dogmatic about, ‘You have to drink cider. You should only drink cider,’” he says. “I think you should drink whatever the hell you like to drink, frankly.”

However, he hopes to share with customers how varied the world of cider can be, just as he experienced. “Had I never gone to this place up in the Finger Lakes, I would've forever thought that Woodchuck was it,” he says.

With Capitol Cider House, Jared will be able to share his passion for cider with his community while staying true to his aim of producing a sustainable, locally‐sourced product. “There's sort of a renaissance that's going on; I want to encourage that and not make it pretentious or cost prohibitive to partake.”

By using a tool like LivePlan to help validate his idea, Jared was able to determine whether or not his vision was viable. And, by creating a business plan with LivePlan, Jared was able to make that dream a reality.

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Capitol Cider House

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