Cash Saver in Midtown is breaking new ground by becoming the first grocery store in the city to set up a full-scale growler station in-store.
The spot, which opened last week, is known as the Madison Growler Shop, and it's the baby of craft-beer manager Taylor James. "I think it adds a level of cool to us," he says.
The Madison Growler Shop has 30 beers on tap, including Schlafly, Abita, Yazoo, and Lazy Magnolia. Customers can bring their own "growlers" or purchase one from the store for $5. Cost for a fill-up will range between $4 and $14, depending on the beer.
James is hoping to bring in more millennials to the store in addition to educating those who've never heard of the growler concept or want to learn more about beer.
"I will take an hour and talk to somebody about beer, that's fine," says James, who, for now, plans to keep the growler concept exclusively at the Midtown store.
"I want this to feel like home and have that small-town mom-and-pop-store feel again, 'cause that's what we are," James says. "Not only can you get your growler, you can go get your steak that you're gonna have with it."
David Smith and Anthony Bond were chatting over beers one evening last fall, when, as one tends to do when sipping and sharing, they got to talking about their jobs. "It's fair to say we were both burnt out and looking to do something different," Bond says.
Their backgrounds — Smith's in art; Bond, health care — didn't quite set the stage for what they wanted to do, but they decided to do it anyway. Bond opened his own growler spot in Chattanooga in August and, in partnership with Smith, opened The Growler about two weeks ago in Cooper-Young.
"When David and I talked about the concept, we wanted it to be the Starbucks for craft beer," Bond says. "The aura, the atmosphere, the layout will be the same, but beers will be a little bit different in each market, depending on what's available."
The Growler features 24 beers on tap, priced between $10 and $14. Customers can bring their own growler or buy one for $5.
Half the beers come from local brewers, which provides the ideal opportunity for what Bond is planning to call a "tap takeover," where local brewery representatives will come in and educate patrons about their brand. The Growler's owners are also working with a nearby restaurant to supply food, and they're hoping to hold pairing events with local restaurants and make the space available for private events.
For now, Smith will manage the day-to-day operations of the Memphis shop alongside Columbus transplant (and his future son-in-law) Kevin Eble. Bond, who lives in Chattanooga, will focus on the research and business aspects and is planning to open more shops in other markets in the region.
Bond says they're not looking to reinvent the wheel but rather create the ideal experience. "Memphis is already very knowledgeable about their craft beers and what they like, and we're simply gonna provide that market."
921 S. Cooper (410-8223)
Heather Reed admits that up until three years ago her attitude toward beer was that she "did not like it at all — at all." It was her old college friend Bryan Berretta who turned her around by introducing her to craft beer.
The timing was good, because Reed and Berretta were planning on going into business together and Berretta was fixed on it being the beer business.
"Three years ago, if I had come to her with this idea, she would have said absolutely not," says Berretta. "There are so many different types of beer — especially in the craft-brew industry — so many very diverse ways of brewing that it's just a matter of discovering what your palate is and going from there."
That diversity and understanding is what they are seeking to bring to the Memphis Filling Station, a growler facility they are opening together in East Memphis in the spring.
While they're still in the process of securing a space, the pair feels that East Memphis gives them the advantage to stand out and reach a different part of the city, one that may not be so keen to make the trip to Midtown for a growler fill.
"We [said], 'Who needs us? Let's go there,'" Berretta says.
They've concentrated hard on building a presence on social media and with their website, which has a wish-list feature for visitors to leave comments on which brews they'd like to see offered. In addition to offering about 30 local and national beers on tap, Reed says they want to make the experience fun for the entire family by also offering snacks, root beers, ice cream, and cream sodas for kids — all of which they are hoping will make them stand out among the competition.