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    Celebrate Four Years with Craft and Draft

    It’s hard to believe, but Craft and Draft is celebrating their 4th Anniversary this coming weekend on Saturday, July 7th. Craft and Draft has become such a staple on Devine Street and in the surrounding community in the four years since they first opened their doors in July 2014. We sat down with Andrew Johnson, one of the two owners, to learn a little bit more about the shop first came to be and where he and Kellan Monroe plan to take it next.
     
    Most people who fall in love with all things craft beer related end up brewing their own beer and / or opening up a brewery. What made y’all decide to do a bottle shop instead?
    The short answer is “lower overhead.” We had a plan in place back in 2011 to start a brewery with three other local guys, but those plans ultimately fizzled. We decided a bottle shop and beer bar would would be quicker and easier to open due to the lower startup and operational costs, plus it gave us the flexibility we wanted in the ability to sell different breweries’ beers and different styles whenever we wanted.
     
    How long did it take you to get Craft and Draft up and running after deciding to open it? What challenges did you face while working towards opening it?
    Including the initial conversations about opening a bottle shop, we collectively spent just over a year working before we launched in July of 2014. I believe our first conversation was (over a beer, of course) mid-winter of 2013. Our first major challenged happened right away when we were denied our lease through a cancelled lease agreement. Finding the time to work with one another was also tough since we both had full time jobs for the majority of that time. There were also some regulatory restrictions on what we could and couldn’t do, and it was tough navigating those as a startup business. It’s hard to explain how frustrating it is dealing with bureaucracy as a business owner, but it was especially frustrating dealing with so many layers of it before we’d ever make a single dime!
     
    What was the first year like?
    I had to pinch myself several times. I couldn’t believe what we were doing was actually working. We had all of the pieces in place through months and months of hard work and preparation, and we sort of hit the ground running as soon as we opened. It was overwhelming at times, frustrating at times, and downright exhausting most of the time—still is—but it was also the most rewarding year because of the long hours sawing, cutting, gluing, and hammering everything into place were still fresh in my mind.
     
    How have things changed from the first year to the fourth year?
    We now have a much firmer grasp on how this business is supposed to operate. When we first opened, we weren’t really sure where it would go. We responded to consumer demand, listened to our customers’ feedback, and kept our thumb on the pulse of the community. Now that we’ve streamlined our operations, we’re running much smoother and less mistake-prone than we were in the first year. We’re also a lot better ate handling big crowds, emergency situations, and nuances typical of running a business that serves alcohol. I guess those things purely come from experience. As far as the customer experience, we’ve increased our hours, went to a seven-day week, and have added the off-premise event service so that we can bring what we have here to the customer.
     
    Where do you see you see Craft and Draft in the next year or two and how do you plan to continue to grow?
    We’d love to add a couple more Midlands locations. Our plan is to bring our concept to the wonderful people of this area and to constantly improve on it. We want our names to be synonymous with craft beer here in the Midlands and eventually, beyond. We’d love to incorporate food service, which will eventually happen.
     
    What’s the best part of owning and running Craft and Draft?
    Easy—the people. I have thoroughly enjoyed forming relationships and friendships with a ton of our customers. I also enjoy meeting new people on a seemingly daily basis, because every new face is a new opportunity to grow.
     
    What is one of your favorite memories from the shop?
    There are SO MANY! Our anniversary parties always stick out because they highlight the overwhelming support from our surrounding community. I especially enjoy them because I have the freedom to mingle with our crowds, listen to the music, and engage with our customers in ways that I’m sometimes unable to do when I’m behind the bar. In short: they’re hot, they’re crowded, but dang they’re a ton of fun!
     
    Join Craft and Draft this Saturday, July 7th, as they celebrate their 4th Anniversary! For more details on the celebration, visit: https://www.facebook.com/events/706427206415193/