After being shut out of Taste of Ormond, Ormond Brewing Co. decided to throw its own event.
Justin Robinson is ending his Ormond Beach Mainstreet and Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce memberships this year, but it isn't to save money. After he was told that his business, Ormond Brewing Co., couldn't participate in the annual Taste of Ormond event, he decided to cut ties.
S.R. Perrott, an Ormond Beach-based beer and wine distributor, has been Mainstreet's annual sponsor for over a decade and has also sponsored the alcohol for Taste of Ormond since the event began. Because Robinson's company uses Perrott competitor Daytona Beverages as its distributor, Mainstreet Executive Director Julia Truilo said Ormond Brewing could not attend.
"As long as I have known Justin, he's known that we have a relationship with S.R. Perrott," she said. "We're not able to have a beer-selling relationship with him because of that, but I promote his events as a member and send people his way."
Even though Robinson has been aware of the relationship with Mainstreet and S.R. Perrott, he still thinks it's unfair for him to be left out of the organization's big community events.
"I give to the chamber and Mainstreet every year, and I don’t get represented," he said. Meanwhile, those organizations support Perrott, so as Robinson sees it, "I’m promoting another business."
Robinson had really hoped Mainstreet would be more open-minded after S.R. Perrott received an incentive from the city to build its distribution center in Ormond Beach. According to Economic Development Director Joe Mannarino, the $81,900 in growth-assistance funds was paid for with the city's general fund, which means residents' and businesses' property taxes — including the taxes Robinson pays for Ormond Brewing Co. — were used to help Perrott.
"It seems like if you have the right friends in politics, you get free stuff," Robinson said.
"The way he has portrayed it is that he's a little business man facing this evil S.R. Perrott," said Truilo. "It's nice but it just isn't so. Perrott is a family-owned local business, and he's represented by Daytona Beverage, which is a bigger group than Perrott. So it's not like he has no one in his corner."
But Robinson doesn't agree, and not being able to participate in Taste of Ormond fueled him to create his own similar event in which he could showcase his product, as well as nine other local restaurants and food trucks.
Taste Ormond — intentionally named to mimic Mainstreet's Taste of Ormond, was held at Ormond Brewing at 4 p.m. March 5 — the same date and time as Taste of Ormond, which was held in Rockefeller Gardens. Over 200 people attended Taste Ormond, and nearly $2,000 was raised for the Ormond Memorial Art Museum.
"My attitude is that it's OK to have as many people join the event as possible, as long as they're supporting the cause," Robinson said. "Even if they go through another distributor, I don't care. Distributor competition shouldn't be followed to small community events."
Taste of Ormond sold out its 600 tickets and featured 19 local restaurants from around the community. Truilo said the extra space they had this year for participants to walk around made the event even better. She hopes moving forward, Robinson will consider continuing his membership with Mainstreet.
"I don't want to have a bad relationship with Justin," she said. "He has a good business, and certainly it's a great thing for Ormond to have a brewing company. I want to welcome him back as a member, but I can't promise my relationship with S.R. Perrott will change, because it won't."
"Obviously I'm not invited to S.R. Perrott's 55th-anniversary party," Robinson said. "But if it's an Ormond Mainstreet event, I could have been invited. I had hoped that there could have been some middle ground."
Moving forward, Robinson said he will continue to host his own events, like an upcoming Oktoberfest, and he plans on including S.R. Perrott and other companies in the beer community.