Meet Greg Goodrich, founder of Cleveland Beer Cellars
, a specialty tavern concept that carries approximately 500 brands at any given time, including 40 beers on draft and hundreds more in bottles. Locally, the company employs 12 people.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
I've had the bug since I shoveled my first driveway and mowed my first lawn. I was interested in how to start a business, how to grow it and how to make it work. I am 100% sure my business mentality was inherited from my father, who never missed an opportunity to negotiate, whether it was related to a friendly Browns wager, purchasing a car, or where to go to dinner.
I pursued a professional career after college (Purdue University) and law school (CSU), working for IBM as a negotiator, ironically enough, where I served in that capacity for 14 years. All the while I dabbled in different businesses. I started and sold a marine maintenance service and I started and sun-setted a product development company, among others.
What led you to start Cleveland Beer Cellars?
Along with my close personal friend and founder of Panini's Bar & Grill, Pasquale (Pat) Donofrio, I created and started Cleveland Beer Cellars. I worked for Pat while in law school and we have frequently researched various business ideas since I've known him. Through some travels and many dinner discussions, we came to realize that the craft beer industry is very hot, interesting and something we wanted to get involved in. We spent three months developing the concept and launched our first store (The Beer Market) in Vernon Hills, Illinois. Tracy Donofrio, Pat's wife and founder of D'Vine Wine Bar, joined us shortly thereafter. We’ve been on a fast path ever since, opening five stores in 18 months, with four more slated for 2014.
Why did you choose Cleveland to open Cleveland Beer Cellars?
Cleveland is home. I was born in Euclid, raised in Richmond Heights, and then later moved to Chesterland. I attended Gilmour Academy in Gates Mills. My roots are here and, on top of that, Cleveland is a salt-of-the-earth city, filled with great (real) people, great food and great beer. People here like to go out and enjoy themselves but don't have the pretense that you find in other cities.
Clevelanders love beer. That is our focus and we are always seeking to bring unique, new releases to our establishment for people to enjoy and to learn about. We are very keen on exposing our customers to new things and learning new things from our customers.
Why is Uptown a great location for your establishment?
This is going to be the place to be. There is so much happening in this area and it is all just starting. The renovation of CIA, Phase II of Uptown, and some notable tenants moving into the area, coupled with the uniqueness of this area made it an easy decision.
What people don't know is how accessible the area is. The developer has a stellar track record and is investing a significant amount of money to launch this project in a steady and thought-out manner. Once the cranes disappear and it's accessibility and uniqueness are obvious, I think it will be one of the hottest areas in Cleveland. I am looking forward to getting to experience its growth first hand.
What are in the works locally for your company?
We are opening a Cleveland Beer Cellars in Phase II of the Flats East Bank project, as soon as the development is move-in ready (expected Fall, 2014). Fairmount Properties has created an amazing redevelopment plan and we are proud to be part of it.
Who is your role model and why?
Hands down that would be my parents. They are the most selfless, hardworking (to a fault) people you could ever meet. They make it look easy, or ordinary, which it clearly isn’t. I hope to be half the man my father is and that would be a success to me. I have a long way to go.
What is the most unique beer you carry, and what's your favorite?
There are too many good beers to name a favorite, but it is usually the last beer I had – which in this case is Grand Teton's Sweetgrass American Pale Ale.