Jimmy’s No. 43 is very happy to be bringing the owners of Crossroads Brewery, Janine Bennett and Kenny Landin, to town next week to talk about (and drink!) their very yummy beer. A relatively new brewery, Crossroads is located in Athens, NY, and has one of those really cool beer stories (they were looking for a place to showcase musical acts and ended up with a 15,000 square foot historic opera house, which was – of course – the perfect place for a brewery!).
If you want to make a night of it, we’ll be offering a prix fixe menu (3 courses, 3 craft beers) for $45 (ticket link here). Otherwise, just come down and pay for your Crossroads beer a la carte. We’ll have oysters that night, too. And Janine and Kenny (and Jimmy, of course) in the house talking beer!
Here’s what Janine has to say about the Crossroads’ journey…
One of the things that people love about Jimmy’s No. 43 is that back room. When Jimmy decided to open a restaurant, he knew he would allow arts groups to come in and use that space for practices, presentations, open mic nights, etc. When you discovered the Opera House in Athens three years ago, was a theater space part of the plan or did you just realize the potential of incorporating an artistic space into the brew pub?
The original reason we wanted to open a brewpub was for a place to showcase local music. While we were craft beer lovers and supporters of the craft beer movement, we were interested in finding a very small space to have a small brew house but a main focus on the music. What we ended up with goes well beyond anything we imagined but it is, after all, the perfect spot. We ended up with a 15,000 square foot, 3 story opera house with the theater on the second floor and the brewery and pub on the first. The amazing 5,000 square foot theater blew us away with possibilities of art exhibits and local theater and dance performances. We could now have bigger events as well, such as intimate beer fests or weddings. That floor is still waiting to begin it’s renovation but the excitement is still there and people have been calling about using the space regularly since we opened. It’s beyond our wildest dreams to have a place like this. It’s a huge amount of work but if we can get there, it’s going to be something truly unique with an awesome story that will live on for many generations to enjoy.
What is the first beer you remember drinking?
The beer Kenny first remembers drinking is a Molson. For myself, though I’m sure it was sips from my dad’s can of Schaefer, I remember drinking a ton of Genny Cream in High School.
You talk about your and Janine’s love of music. You’re in an opera house. What kind(s) of music inspire you two and how is that a part of your evolution?
Music started this entire journey for us. In the beginning we considered just opening a coffee house to showcase the musicians instead of a brewpub because it’s simply a whole lot easier. But we got involved with Butternuts Beer and Ale and began to immerse ourselves in the industry and the passion grew. So the marriage of music and craft beer began. I don’t know if any specific kind of music inspired us. Just a love of music in general, though the three main stations we play at the bar are Classic Vinyl, Jam Band and The Grateful Dead.
The pub has been open less than a year, the brewery a bit longer than that. How is your business doing vis a vis a pub versus the brewery? Is the community embracing the new venture?
The tasting room opened in October of 2010 and the pub opened in June of 2011. We can’t say enough about the support we received from the local community. Big banks and lenders wouldn’t even call us back. We re-wrote our business plan and heard “no” enough times to become discouraged almost to the point of giving up. It changed when we found this building. Athens is a small, historic, Hudson Valley village that sits right on the bank of the Hudson River. Our local county bank couldn’t be more excited to help us out. They were interested in renovating a building that was on its last legs and creating a destination place in Greene County. The County and State development agencies got behind us as well and suddenly it was a train that couldn’t be stopped. The locals call the place home and it has become a central hub for the community. Hutch Kugeman, our talented brewer, is also busy in the brewery pumping out beer for the ever growing list of bars and restaurants that we provide kegs to throughout the Hudson Valley and NYC. We can’t make enough beer and that’s a great problem!
How do you envision Crossroads (the beer and the intersections in life) five years from now?
It’s amazing really. When you dream something and it actually happens you start to wonder what else you can dream up! We are still working on getting our full kitchen finished and then we will start working on the theater and event space. This will take a few years. At the same time, discussions about expanding the brewery will surely be taking place. Who knows what the next crossroads will have in store for us!
Jimmy’s 43 has been so supportive of us and we can’t thank you all enough. We are excited to get down there on the 19th! It’s going to be a blast!