Persephone Brewing becomes official beer partner of Rio Theatre in ongoing efforts to save East Van venue

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      Persephone Brewing Company is the latest party to invest in the Rio Theatre as part of an ongoing campaign to #SaveTheRio, becoming the East Vancouver institution’s first official beer partner in the process.

      The collaboration will see the multimedia venue, which holds a license that allows the sale of liquor at live events, serve Persephone beer almost exclusively on draught and in cans. The two businesses may also co-host screenings and related functions. However, the Rio will continue carrying wine, cider, and non-alcoholic beverages from other providers to cater to non-beer drinkers.

      “We’ve been happy with the breweries we’ve already worked with,” Corinne Lea, CEO and owner of the Rio Theatre, told the Georgia Straight by phone. “But in our efforts to buy the property, we were basically trying to think of every angle possible. And when we thought about how much beer we sell, we realized this is actually a very good position for a brewery to be in because not only will they be able to capitalize on that, but it’s good exposure.”

      Lea said that five breweries expressed interest in a potential partnership with the Rio, though she ultimately chose Persephone due to the companies’ shared roots and values. Similar to the Rio, Persephone previously launched crowdfunding campaigns to help expand its operations, and at one point, grow a hop yard. Founded in 2013, the micro-brewery runs an 11-acre farm and production facility in Gibsons.

      “There’s just sort of a natural alignment in what we’re both about, in terms of engaging the community, business practices, and those kinds of things,” Brian Smith, CEO and cofounder of Persephone, noted by phone.

      Perspephone Brewing Company

      The money that Persephone has invested in the Rio will go toward buying the property. Since February, Lea and her business partner Jonathan Kerridge, who own the company that leases and operates the historic single-screen theatre, have been raising funds from the public in an effort to purchase the building it’s situated in after it was listed for sale in January.

      Lea and Kerridge put in an offer on February 7, which was subsequently accepted by the mortgage holder. The pair launched a high-profile crowdfunding drive shortly after, successfully collecting more than $500,000 toward a $3 million down payment. An equity-crowdfunding campaign was also organized with the goal of attracting investors.

      The initiative is now in its final stages, with an additional crowdfunding link set up to help cover an estimated $300,000 in closing costs.

      Both this and the equity-crowdfunding campaign close today (July 17) at midnight, though supporters are welcome to donate to the cause in-person at the Rio Theatre (1660 East Broadway) until July 31, which is the deadline to buy the property. Interested accredited investors may also e-mail Lea directly until July 27.

      When asked about the prospective success of the #SaveTheRio campaign, Lea said she is “hopeful”. “We have a lot of things in the works in terms of people wanting to come on board and help us out. But until we have the money in hand, it can’t be guaranteed.”