Business SPOT LIGHT
“Four Friends and an Idea”
Old 690 Brewing Company
By: Robin Cunningham (Reston Limousine)
For anyone that has kids, you know that is where many adult friendships begin. You know how it starts: class field trips, school activities, sports, youth groups, proms, homecomings, carpools, etc., and before you know it, you have lifelong friends and maybe even a brewing company.
The year is 2012, and four friends are getting together as friends often do. The next thing you know, some brainstorming takes place, and it is decided that they should open a brewery! Since Mark and Rhonda Powell had the more considerable lot, they agreed the brewery would be on their property and began construction at the end of 2012.
In early 2013, Old 690 Brewing Company was established and officially opened in August 2014. Old 690 was the first “legal” brewery in Loudoun County. But unfortunately, they couldn’t open until the law that allows limited breweries to operate in the state of VA passed. This law limits the amount of beer a brewery can make and sell, and mandates that breweries grow and plant on their property. So, when you go to Old 690, some of the things you’ll see and hear are hops, herbs, blueberries, and rows and rows of cut flowers such as zinnias, cosmos, asters, and marigolds – all visited by an abundance of butterflies!
Three of the four partners have “ real jobs” so Ronda Powell oversees all things Old 690 – along with their “fantastic team that is more like family” Old 690 is closed Mondays and Tuesdays (see their hours here), allowing Ronda to volunteer and help the community. Their passion for helping others has set Old 690 apart from other Loudoun County breweries. From when they first opened their doors, Old 690 began hosting fundraisers to support non-profits such as Wounded Warriors, Rescue Dogs for Vets, local food banks, and Tree of Life Ministries. While they’re too modest to admit this, their spirit of helping others has positively impacted other LoCo breweries, and now other breweries are helping their communities too.
It is hard to talk to anyone about business or work without addressing the elephant in the room: Covid. Like every business we know and can imagine, Old 690 was significantly impacted and had to shut its doors just like everyone else. Since four heads are better than one, they brainstormed some more, and while it didn’t lead to opening a new business as their original brainstorming session did, it did lead to figuring out how to sustain their current business. Old 690 Brewing Company became a beer delivery service! They used their converted ambulance (think an adult version of an ice cream truck) and delivered beer to their customers and non-customers! Ronda said their customers “ were fabulous with their support and loyalty” until Old 690 could, once again, open its doors. Regardless of Covid, it is no surprise and certainly worth the reminder that supporting small businesses is vital to our communities.
Old 690 makes all their beer in-house and keeps 12 beers on tap, including a few favorites: Raspberry Wheat, Blonde, and Hillsboro Gap IPA. On rare occasions, they run out of these favorites, and customers have been known to give them the stink eye as they make another selection. In addition to beer, Old 690 serves seltzers and food made there on site. Food trucks are often scheduled on Saturdays as well.
In the spirit of keeping their guests entertained and trying to appeal to everyone, Old 690 hosts Open Mic night on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month – with the 3rd Friday being open mic night for kids (how cool is that?). On the 4th Friday of each month is Bingo, which is super fun and a fundraiser for community non-profits. It also offers live entertainment every Saturday.
Some people might think that mixing business and friendship is risky. However, these four partners bring their unique personalities, skillset, and talent to the table, making Old 690 flourish and succeed, which was the idea all along.