NABC Bank Street Brewhouse progress report.


Although it is not to be confused with the Gang of Four, we now have a “Gang of Seven,” a term we’re using internally to describe the group working to get NABC’s Bank Street Brewhouse off the ground. Listed alphabetically by first name, they’re Gregg, Jared, Jesse, John, Josh, Kelsey and Roger, and as we get closer to the projected February taproom opening, I’ll tell you more about each of them.

In the meantime, we’ve been working on multiple fronts, and in different groupings of the gang’s members depending on the task at hand. Yesterday, Gregg, Jared and I were discussing aspects of the taproom’s daily operation. Specifically, we were considering how much waste we’ll be generating, and how (a) to reduce it from the start, and (b) to dispose of it responsibly. As an example, we’ve resolved to be Styrofoam-free. Will we use cloth napkins? If not, can we use recyclables in some fashion?

Much of it is old hat elsewhere, but we have more than one mandate because in this, as in other areas, once a new paradigm is in place and proved workable downtown at the new brewhouse, we’ll use the lessons learned to remake and revitalize aspects of operations at the original location.

Eventually, this question was asked: Do we need drinking straws?

To answer the question, we took a previous decision into consideration. The BSB taproom likely will forego both fountain soft drinks and iced tea-by-the-gallon. There will be an intelligent selection of craft sodas in recyclable bottles, and if necessary, pre-packaged tea (cans?), both priced by the unit, which is to say, no free refills, and pay as you go.

Because … absent the liquids generally consumed through them, are drinking straws really necessary? The only conceivable affirmative response to this question pertains to the hygienic distaste felt by some when touching their lips to glass or plastic, but surely this reaction is confined to a small minority or potential patrons.

All of it points to a larger concern. To what extent must a business cater to popular taste as it is perceived, as opposed to serving a niche and undertaking to shape popular taste?

In answering, I must reference my experiences traveling in Europe, where generally speaking, fountain sodas remain rare outside of American fast food emporiums, tea is something consumed hot from a cup, and bottomless cups of weak coffee are for the morning spread at bed and breakfasts, if even then.

Cola comes in a bottle, and you pay for each one. The same goes for espresso. Most often in cafes, the difference between an espresso and a cup of coffee is the amount of hot water passing through the machine’s basket … and you pay for each one. This system certainly suits me, and we’ll probably buy a home-model Saeco espresso machine for the back bar of the taproom, and make single servings of espresso and black coffee. Period.

Give it a chance. You’ll be a convert in no time.

Overall, much of what I experienced in Europe during the early days was incomprehensible to me at first, and it constituted a challenge to a mind that had not been challenged often enough during high school and university here in Indiana. Looking back, I’m grateful to have been challenged.

While there are always exceptions, what I’ve taken away from it after all these years is the notion that trying to please everyone at a minimal level of achievement may be necessary to some extent, but it isn’t the game I want to play.

Rather, teaching’s my gig. To teach is to provide learning and instruction. That’s always been my mission, and it will continue to be once we’ve opened downtown. The higher object is to satisfy the pre-existing demand, and to mold new demand … to be a destination, and to be renowned for a unique reason.

The BSB taproom will have a short menu of good food conceived and prepared by a professional chef (Josh). I believe his menu is going to be a hit, but regardless, it will not include hamburgers, pizza or chicken tenders. NABC beers will be available, and I know they’re good. Other places downtown will be serving other craft beers and mass-market lagers, but we won’t. There’ll be a few bottles of quality spirits available for the discerning palate, but there will not be Jack and Coke. And so on, and so forth … and more power to your business model. I want ours to be different.

Since drinking straws annoy the hell out of me, we’ll probably not have any on hand … but I guess you can bring your own.