If you’re interested in a peek behind the HopCat curtain, our head of Food, Beverage and Cultural Innovation, Garry Boyd, recent sat down for an interview with the Mash Podcast to discuss how our restaurant family – or “un-chain” – has evolved along with the craft beer industry.
Reflecting on HopCat’s beginnings, Boyd acknowledged that the idea of a beer bar focusing exclusively on craft breweries was an outside-the-box idea as recently as a decade ago. “When we started HopCat in 2008 and Mark Sellers – the owner, my boss – told me his plan not to sell Bud/Miller/Coors, I might have been the first person to tell him he was a genius, because everybody else told him he was going to fail epically.”
The title of the episode is “Scaling a Brewpub,” and much of Boyd’s discussion with host Zane DeVault focused on how HopCat has expanded its operation across the Midwest as the craft beer market grew explosively. A respect and passion for craft beer, he said, has enabled HopCat to maintain its guiding philosophies while responsibly joining the craft beer culture of the communities where we’ve opened restaurants.
“We’ve always tried to be stewards for craft beer, first and foremost,” Boyd explained. “We want to be a good resource for everybody when they think of craft beer. I want the brewers to want us to have their beer on draft because they trust us.”
The conversation also addresses some anxieties that have crept into the industry, such as whether craft brewing has reached a saturation point, or if the landscape is too crowded for new breweries to succeed. What ultimately determines success or failure, Boyd said, is whether the beer itself is any good.
“I don’t think there’s a bubble for craft beer. I just think that as there’s less and less shelf space and we’re cutting the pie smaller and smaller for everybody, it better be some good pie," he said. "You can make crappy beer and go out of business, and that’s not going to change. But I think as long as the beer’s good, as long as there’s an authenticity to what’s going on, I think you’ll find that there’s a home for it.”
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