Over the weekend, Craft Beer Cellar opened to the public in what used to be the Lakewood Papa John's on Gaston Avenue. While there seem to be countless places in Dallas to purchase craft beer, from grocery stores to even 7-Eleven, Craft Beer Cellar seeks to be the place to buy craft beer in East Dallas. Craft Beer Cellar is part of a retail chain that started in Massachusetts, but it's locally owned and operated by Stanley Nauman and James Waskow. In order to qualify for ownership, "owners must demonstrate a passion for beer and education," Waskow says, and owners are also required to become certified cicerones, a certification he achieved over the summer. Every member of the new Lakewood store's staff is a certified beer server through the cicerone program.
Talking about how the business came to be, Waskow said that he and his old high school friend, Nauman, had been attending the Great American Beer Festival for a few years when they both decided to leave their 20-plus-year careers and go into business together.
"Coming from the corporate world, the idea of a franchise appealed to us," Waskow says of Craft Beer Cellar. "It provided a built-in stellar reputation and a winning template that has eased our transition into shop owners."
And for those who shop at Craft Beer Cellar, what they will find is a beer-smart staff; every member of their team is a certified beer server.
When patrons arrive at Craft Beer Cellar, they will see a furniture-less patio, which is unusable currently because of TABC restrictions, but is something they are working to change, staff says. Inside the store, there's a bar with a number of beers on tap for sale by the glass or growler. If there is something in the store that you want to try before committing to a six-pack, every beer in the store can be bought individually.
And for a $2 fee (per TABC restrictions, owners say), anything for sale that isn't on tap can be consumed on premise, as long as it's served by a staff member. Given the immense beer selection, this aspect of Craft Beer Cellar should prove appealing to hop-heads. There are a number of beers from smaller craft breweries as well as some foreign brews from countries like Iceland, Germany and Japan.
This selection is "an eclectic mix of offerings catered toward the growler user," Waskow says, noting that owners "are making a conscious effort to keep a diversity of styles, showing love for the standout locals while representing the classics."
For those looking to build their own six pack, fill a growler or just grab a quick beer while hanging out in Lakewood, Craft Beer Cellar is worth a visit.
"If you want to sip on a pint while building your own six pack, contemplating your growler fill, or perusing the bomber selection ... we just give folks another option for a relaxing, friendly atmosphere regardless of your level of beer nerd-dom," Waskow says.
Craft Beer Cellar, 6324 Gaston Ave.