The husband and wife business team are building a community around craft beer
Grain + Grape taproom and retail shop owners Kim and Tom Sneary celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary earlier this year with a vacation in Sedona, Arizona.
“The whole focus of that trip was just to go out hiking every day, but we still managed to hit eight breweries while we were there,” Kim said during a mid-September interview at their Bexley business. “And that's only because there were only eight breweries to go to.”
Such is typical for the couple, who have taken numerous “beer vacations” in the past, visiting 15 to 20 breweries in a week in states such as Colorado, California and Oregon. They also patronized the two wine shops that previously occupied the Grain + Grape space.
Kim, a former executive assistant, and Tom, a former architect, turned their passion into a new profession by purchasing the building and opening their craft beer and wine retail shop in November 2013. After much renovation, they opened the adjacent taproom, featuring a beer bar and wine bar in October 2014.
The “beer side” of the taproom features 11 rotating taps and a bar top that Tom constructed from a discarded bowling lane once located in the Capital University Student Union.
“We want to cater to the Budweiser drinker. … So we always try to have a comparable craft beer,” Tom said.
“If it's their first craft experience, we want it to be a nice craft experience,” Kim added.
The Snearys credit their success as a small business to their dedication to the neighborhood — they try to support as many local charity events as possible — and networking with beer sales representatives.
“Our competitor is Giant Eagle,” Tom said of the supermarket chain, which opened a Bexley location last year. “When a special beer comes out, they'll get 15 cases of it, and we'll get two. We could sell 15 cases of it if we got it, but because they've got seven or eight stores in town and they're such a big buyer, they get preferential treatment. … Craft beer was community-oriented and it was all about local business and now you have corporate coming in.”
But for now, Grain + Grape has maintained a strong core clientele, which it caters to with alcohol selection and taproom business hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 4-9 p.m. and Friday, 4-10 p.m.
“This is a family-oriented neighborhood, so on the weekends [residents] like to do things with the family,” he said. “[And] nothing good happens after 10 p.m.”
“You wouldn't believe how many people … lived in this neighborhood for years and years but didn't know the person three blocks down from them,” Tom continued. “We've got a whole community here now [and] we've introduced their neighbors to them.”