If you think the bartender's nickname is unusual, read on for his real name
Experiencing the Kindred Beer tasting room without Pants would be a mistake.
Obviously, patrons should come fully dressed, but also plan visits for Wednesday, Friday or Saturday in order to catch the charismatic bartender with the unique nickname. The moniker was bestowed upon him more than a decade ago during a night involving too much gin and friends taping pants to his car.
“I've forgotten most of the story,” said Pants, born John Hribar, whose surname is similarly uncommon. The bartender's family name is Slovenian, at least according to a group of drunken Slovenians Pants met on a trip to Paris when he was 15.
“I asked my folks and my dad said that his grandpa was from Austria,” Pants said. “His grandpa said that [Hribar] meant ‘mushroom picker.'”
Despite his unusual names, Pants' education and career background are fairly common. He studied English at Ohio State and originally planned to become a teacher until he observed a class of high school students.
“I showed up and I'm like, ‘These kids are awful,'” Pants said, lamenting that the teacher seemed to spend more time handling student drama rather than delving into the subject matter.
After college, he worked at places such as a martini bar, hotel bar and Shadowbox Live. But through a stint at Weiland's Market, he discovered retail was one area of the industry that didn't suit him.
“When you go to a beer store or a liquor store, you're one more step away from where you want to be, which is home drinking the stuff that you bought,” Pants explained. “[Customers] are like, ‘We want to be done with this interaction as quick as possible.'”
Pants seems to have found a more pleasant home behind the bar at Kindred Beer, where he has been since its opening as Kindred Artisan Ales in April 2016. But don't ask him about the name change. “That is above my pay grade,” he said. “All I know is I answer the phone differently.”
“It's neat to work for a place that makes their own things,” Pants said about the company, which brews its own craft beer, including, most recently, three new sours. He feels “a sense of pride” even though he isn't involved in brewing operations. “Folks will come up and be like, ‘This is awesome beer' and I go, ‘Thank you. I [once] held the door open for the guy who brews it.'”
But Pants is given the freedom to design the cocktail menu; his creations — including a smoked apple whiskey drink and a gin and mangosteen beverage — are often inspired by trips to international grocery stores.
When Pants isn't at Kindred, he's at OSU, studying to get a second bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.
“I would love to work an engineering job long enough to … open up a bar,” he said. “That would be an ultimate goal.”