Smaller craft breweries are unique businesses. They don’t just market themselves as a place to come and enjoy a local product but create community ties while supporting local economies. Franklins of Hyattsville, MD, is doing this and then some. The brewpub, which includes a general store, began as a small deli but has since transformed into a Prince George County icon.
The transformation that Franklins has undergone is pretty unique. Purchased by Mike and Debra Franklin in 1992, the original facility was a struggling hardware store that was flipped into a general store and deli. The location on Route 1 was not a thriving area, but the Franklins believed this new store would spark a business resurgence. The deli became popular but outgrew the space, and in 2002, it was closed to make space for a full-time brewpub and a larger general store. Since then, the Franklins have made more than 18 beers and a line of craft root beer.
To help boost the area’s economy, Franklins abides by a very stringent locally-sourced ingredient policy. They buy most of their food from Maryland farmers and sell a line of rums and gins made in the Free State.
These efforts support the brewery and the people growing and providing the food. “What’s fun about our place is we don’t really have a corporate mission other than selling what the people want to buy, so we’re not restricted to any category like you were if you were a store in the mall,” Mike Franklin said.
In addition, they also send all their spent grain from brewing to Harlowes Farm in Harwood, MD, for cattle feed. Franklins’ commitment to this “buy local” policy has aided the revitalization of the Hyattsville business sector. In addition, the owners told Consensus they added solar panels to the roof to reduce energy costs from brewing and carefully recycle their boxes to keep a green presence within the community.
The brewpub has been committed to promoting business along the store’s strip. One way they achieve this is by hosting a local artwork showcase through a partnership with Hyattsville Community Arts Alliance (HCAA). Local art lines the walls of Franklins, and customers can purchase a painting. Each piece has three months before a new work replaces it. Franklins also has a LED light mural painted by Liz Manicatide. The installation is a permanent fixture on the north side of the brewery; you can catch the light show after dark.
The business has also done extensive outreach programs involving everything from watershed conservation to local nonprofit donations.
For every bottle of root beer returned to the brewery, Franklins will donate 10 cents to the Anacostia Watershed Society, an activist organization raising awareness about water pollution and cleanup in the Anacostia River. More than 1 million people and hundreds of wildlife species reside in the watershed’s vicinity. Cleaner water means more flourishing wildlife and better quality of life for Prince George and Montgomery County residents.
Furthermore, the philanthropic arm of the brewery, Franklins’ Fundraisers, has worked for 20 years to raise money for local nonprofits. If these nonprofits direct customers to the brewery or general store on certain Mondays or Tuesdays, they can receive 20% of the proceeds from sales.
“Pre-pandemic, we would host around 60 fundraisers a year for local schools, PTA boards, and such,” the owners told Consensus. “Post-pandemic, participation has dropped a little, but we’ve still managed to host fundraisers for various environmental groups, Black Lives Matter, and pro-choice advocates, among others.” In 2020, Mike Franklin told the Kojo Nnamdi Show, a local Maryland podcast on WAMU 88.5, that the store has raised close to $500,000 through these events.
With close to 30 years in business, Franklins is still striving to impact the Hyattsville local economy. The owners opened their store hoping to improve the shopping experience along Route 1. They are trying to help their community thrive — one beer and meal at a time.