Q&A: The Daily Growler’s John Blakely

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From the June 12, 2014 edition

John Blakely’s rotating cast of rare craft brews has become so popular, he needed a second stage.

As owner of the Daily Growler, Blakely is bringing his love for international craft beer to Powell when the second Daily Growler location opens at 258 W. Olentangy St. in early July. With an overwhelming sense of optimism and a few lessons learned from the first go-round, Blakely has the growler game covered.

In college, I was into bad beer. I remember skipping class my senior year at OSU to go drink across the street. I thought I was the classiest guy when I sat in Wendell’s and drank Blue Moon. But after college, I started treating beer like everything else in my life; I wanted to experience it more thoroughly. That’s why our draft list is constantly changing. Plus, beer has alcohol in it, and it tastes good. As Ben Franklin said, “beer is proof God loves us.”

Opening the first Daily Growler location was an immediate trial by fire. I was working at a corporate job in Texas, and I hated it. I had never worked in a bar before, but I did have a lot of experience drinking beer, so my dad and I decided to open a growler shop. We opened a week before Christmas in 2012, and thought our original 2,000 growlers would last us through the Super Bowl. We were wrong. The response was so overwhelming, I ended up running around like George Bailey collecting growlers from my friends and family.

Every week people ask us when we’ll open a second location. I’m on a first-name basis with most of our customers, and people were always asking when we would open another Daily Growler. We waited to open the second location because we didn’t want to ask anyone for help and risk our creative autonomy. It’s like having your second child; you make all the mistakes with the first one, and then you’re better with the second one.

I love the sense of community beer creates. I’m really excited the Powell location will have a 25-seat patio. At the Upper Arlington location, we can only seat a few outside, and I know that if there were more space, everybody would be drinking on a patio. There are few things better than drinking good beer outside. [Our customers] can still expect the same feel and awesome draft list at the second location. We provide a service the area needed by offering really good beer and people, and I’m excited to bring that sense of community to Powell.

I can’t stress enough how much I like to drink on the job. I’ve done the corporate thing, and it isn’t like “Mad Men.” I didn’t want to sit at a desk, I wanted to do something my heart was into, and I don’t want to worry about the boss catching me with a beer. Even though I have a few more gray hairs than I used to, I smile every single day I come into work.

Photo by Meghan Ralston