For nearly a decade, the Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont has been a beer lover’s paradise. Its founders, Suzanne Schalow and Kate Baker, placed a shrewd bet on craft beer just as it hit the mainstream and set about creating the country’s first national chain of specialty beer stores. They now boast 30 locations across the country.
“Our trinity,’’ Schalow said, is “amazing beer, hospitality, and education.’’
But that early business acumen hasn’t translated into success for many of the franchise owners who were persuaded to buy into their brand. A number of franchisees say they raised money from friends and family, gave up a job, or sold a house to cover the costs of opening their own stores — only to now find themselves facing mounting financial pressures that may cause them to fail.