The billionaire founder of the Chobani yogurt brand, Hamdi Ulukaya, has stepped in to save and revive Anchor Brewing Co., and he even has plans to rehire its employees.

The iconic San Francisco steam beer brand will live on, says Hamdi Ulukaya, after the billionaire put in the winning bid for Anchor Brewing's assets — for an amount that has not been disclosed.

"San Francisco is at the heart of Anchor Brewing, and Anchor embodies so much of what makes this city great," Ulukaya says in a statement. "I am humbled and excited to be part of this city and its rich community of people, who have a spirit that is special and unique."

He adds, "I have learned so much about Anchor and its role in San Francisco's journey, and I look forward to doing whatever I can to support this amazing story of revitalization."

Last we heard, in March, the bidding process was underway and we had expected to hear about a winner in late April. But a month late, the Chronicle reports that Ulukaya is the new owner of Anchor Brewing's assets, and he sounds eager to get the Potrero Hill brewery back open once more. "Wouldn’t it be amazing to get it going in time to make the Christmas ale this year? That would be awesome," Ulukaya tells the paper.

This sounds like great news for the group of former Anchor Brewing Company employees who had formed a collective that had considered putting in a bid of their own for the assets. They ultimately decided not to submit a bid, and they put out a statement in March saying that they were open to "partnering in some manner with the successful bidder." And now Ulukaya says he's looking to bring back the company's longtime employees.

This also means that Ulukaya's bid beat out one that we had heard was put in by an investor group that included Pete’s Wicked Ale CFO Jim Collins and former Anchor owner Fritz Maytag.

Fascinatingly, Ulukaya has no real connections to San Francisco and had never heard of Anchor Steam Beer until last August, when he read an article about the brewery's closure in Forbes.

"I realized how Anchor is really aligned with the city’s history. And I thought, ‘Wow, what if? What if we can bring it back?’" Ulukaya says in an interview with the Chronicle. "And that excited me because I’ve been part of bringing back a factory back in upstate New York and building a brand."

Hamdi Ulukaya speaks onstage at "Finding Your Purpose: Why Putting Purpose over Profits is Good for Business" during the 2023 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Hilton Austin on March 11, 2023 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW)

He's referring to the story that he's shared in a TED Talk and elsewhere about growing up in rural Turkey, coming to the US, and eventually buying a failing yogurt plant in upstate New York in 2005 and launching the highly successful Chobani brand.

Ulukaya speaks in fairly abstract and emotional terms when he describes his business acumen, talking of his "anti-CEO playbook," and putting people before profits. He was inspired, he said, to revive this yogurt factory in New York in part of a familial connection to yogurt-making, but also out of a desire to give life back to the town it was in, and to its workers.

"It remind[s] me [of] a feeling that I used to remember when a kid would drown in [the] Euphrates River from our hometown," he said in a TED interview. "You will have this sadness cloud over the town for months and months. You feel like the whole place is dead. You know, it's cemetery. And I had the same feeling in there when that plant was closed, when I was buying it at the time, is that this is the end of us, this is finished, this is over."

Speaking about the Anchor brand, and his interest in the beer business, Ulukaya seems to have appreciated something about the brand itself — and he says he's actually no big beer connoisseur himself.

"It’s a competitive landscape — a lot of beers out there," he tells the Chronicle. “But who cares? From the other perspective you have the people behind it, the history, the recipe, the name and the tradition aligned with this magical San Francisco. There is no value you can put into that."

It's not yet clear whether the Anchor Public Taps taproom will return in the space next door to the brewery, or whether Ulukaya has bigger plans for brewpubs and the like. Ulukaya says those things will come in time, and he's just now talking to the former employees.

As he said in that TED interview, "Making plans has never been my thing... Now I'm making those kind of plans because I have kids. I think adaptations of the reality has been my thing, and that is coming back to the nomadic lifestyle. You know, if you're in a Kurdish tribe and nomadic Kurdish tribe, you leave, you go to a place and you say, 'This is a good place for us to stay.'"

All in all, this is great news for the city and for lovers of Anchor beers. There was a possibility in this whole bankruptcy process that the brand and recipes might be sold to one entity, and the historic brewery building could have been sold to another for redevelopment, which would have been especially sad.

Now, maybe later this year, you'll be able to tour the place again and see the copper stills, and taste some fresh steam beer once more.

Update: Mayor London Breed has put out a statement about the acquisition, saying, "This is not just an investment in San Francisco. It's a recognition of what makes our city truly special — our history, our institutions, and our people."

Previously: Here's What We Know About the Anchor Brewing Company Auction, As It Stands