Where the Thirst for Literature Meets the Thirst for Beer | Modern Society of USA

Where the Thirst for Literature Meets the Thirst for Beer

Where the Thirst for Literature Meets the Thirst for Beer

INDIANAPOLIS — The first thing one notices about Books & Brews is that it’s off the beaten path, tucked into an unassuming strip mall in a cluster of industrial-supply stores and a sprawling outpost of The Home Depot near 96th Street on the far north side of Indianapolis. The second thing you may notice upon entering the shop is how inviting it feels, with its bright, bookshelf-lined walls, clusters of sturdy wooden tables and racks of board games — and that’s before you get to the back of the store with a craft-beer taproom, small stage and even more packed bookshelves.

“I started off here mainly because as a start-up, no one will lease to you,” said Jason Wuerfel, 38, the founder and president of Books & Brews, during a recent chat at the company’s “mother ship” location. But the lack of foot traffic hasn’t stopped his establishment from becoming a popular gathering spot.

His parents owned and operated hotels, as well as an independent minor-league baseball team, in Traverse City, Mich. In working with them, Wuerfel got a close-up look at entrepreneurship, customer service and the nuts and bolts of running a business. A later stint as a stay-at-home dad gave him the bandwidth to tinker with making his own beer, and he began to develop an idea for just the kind of place he wanted to create.

Books & Brews opened in March 2014, and Wuerfel’s vision of a place for people to “read, drink, converse” brought in the customers. He expanded his original footprint before the end of the first year to 4,500 square feet from 2,250 square feet by leasing the empty warehouse next door. “There were nights when I’d just run to Home Depot and buy folding chairs so people would have someplace to sit,” he recalled.

He credits much of his business model’s success to warm customer care and creating situations for guests to feel like they belong. “One hundred percent of the people who are here on any given night are here because they purposefully came for Books & Brews,” he said. “That is true destination appeal and really makes the atmosphere fantastic.”

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