After a year all too devoid of nights out drinking beer with friends, Jason Griggs hopes to bring the community back to his watering hole at Dubtown Brewing in Renton.
Griggs and his team opened Dubtown Brewing on 201 Main Ave. S. in July2019, only about eight months before the pandemic forced bars and restaurants to either close their doors or limit their service.
Opening a brewery had been a dream of Griggs for as long as he could remember. He started as a home brewer, developing trial and error iterations of beers that would later make it onto the menu at Dubtown Brewing years later.
“For me it’s as much an art as it is a science,” Griggs said.
But Griggs said that for him, opening a brewery wasn’t just about the beer. It was about creating a place in the community for the community. A place where old friends visit and new friends meet.
“You can find good beer everywhere, especially in this region,” he said. “It’s about creating an environment, a community watering hole.”
When the pandemic hit, Griggs, like many other business owners, was challenged by the restrictions on inside dining and drinking.
Initially, he said he had to cut staff hours and cease table service. He eventually created a heated outside space for customers to comply with state laws.
Griggs said a few days before, a windy and rainy day forced him and his beertender Nate Mak to frantically pitch a tarp to protect customers from the elements.
“We are just trying to keep people as safe and as happy as they possibly can be,” Griggs said.
The small three- to four-person team at Dubtown Brewing, which included Patsy Edonhart and Gary Grant, were pleased to learn they had established a following in the community in the short period between their opening and the pandemic.
“You have to make good beer to stay in business,” Mak said. “But it’s more than that. It’s the relationships. It’s the atmosphere.”
Griggs said community members had been nudging and asking how they could help and support the brewery during the pandemic.
Griggs credited his wife, Betsy, for the idea for the “Growler Fills to Pay the Bills” end of the year fundraiser. This allowed customers to donate money in exchange for growler fills and gift bundles.
The gift bundles were in four tiers based on how much is donated, with the highest tier requiring a $500 or more donation and including the chance to name one of Dubtown Brewing’s new brews.
Griggs said he was amazed by the support shown with close to nine people donating over $500 and another dozen people donating the next tier of more than $250.
When Griggs was asked about what excited him most about running his business post-pandemic, he pointed to the bar countertop that stretched down the length of his taproom. It sat empty, all of its stools overturned and set to the side.
“Filling the bar up, man,” he said with a glimmer of excitement in his eye.