Here's a question for you. What does a heart surgeon, a musician, a pastor, a teacher, an engineer, an interior designer, a non-profit executive, and a mother of 6 all have in common? BREWED, our little stamp on Fort Worth.
I never imagined that Melissa and I would one day wind up in the restaurant business, but 3.5 years ago we opened BREWED with some of our best friends. It's a mix between a coffee house, a pub, and also a restaurant. But it's more than all of those things. We call it the "Locals Living Room", because it's a place where people come from all walks of life to meet, eat, drink, tell stories, exchange ideas, make memories, re-connect, study, and even work. At any point in time you will find business men, college students, grandmas, doctors, musicians, artists, and neighborhood locals all enjoying great food, drink, and having conversations. We serve Texas craft beer, locally roasted coffee, and a chef inspired menu all wrapped up in a space that is overflowing with fun and funky decor. BREWED has won all sorts of awards, has been featured in magazines, on TV shows, on album covers, and in national publications. It's a place that we are super proud of and we hope to one day open more. Mel and I opened BREWED with 3 other couples and not a single one of us had any restaurant experience. It was a long journey, with tons of highs and lows, but in the end we created a pretty magical place.
The idea for BREWED was born in China of all places. From 2008-2012 Melissa and one of our best friends Joey Turner (the Pastor) led a series of leadership exchange trips to China every summer. On those trips they would hang out with Chinese students in the city of Nanjing and teach them about leadership, ethics, and American culture. Melissa would bring groups of College Students from TCU and Joey would bring business leaders from Fort Worth to speak to the college students at the local Universities in Nanjing. After the lectures they would often meet with students at a coffee shop in Nanjing called "Sculpting in Time". Sculpting In Time was one of the coolest coffee shops any of us had ever been and it quickly became one of our favorite spots to visit on each trip. On one of those trips in 2009, Joey brought along Dayna & David Corley (the heart surgeon and mother of 6). While meeting with students at Sculpting in Time, Dayna casually said to Joey and David, "Don't you just wish we had one of these places back in Fort Worth? We should open one!". It was that simple conversation that happened 7000 miles away from Texas that sparked it all. This conversation soon set off a chain reaction that led to us opening our very own restaurant together.
Fast-forward a few months later and we were hanging out at the Corley's house. David was brewing his own craft beer and the guys were all sampling it in the kitchen, meanwhile Melissa and Dayna were working on a fundraiser to raise awareness for sex trafficking. Dayna and Melissa kept running into roadblocks with their event because they could not find a place to host it. So we started joking about the idea of actually opening our own coffee shop (like Sculpting in Time) where we could hosts events and let non-profits use the space. It would be the solution to Melissa & Dayna's event space issue and all the guys decided that it would also be cool if we served craft beer (because what guy doesn't love craft beer). After doing some more dreaming and joking (all while sipping home brew), we decide to take the idea to the next level and set up an official meeting to brainstorm what it would look like.
At our first official meeting to discuss opening a coffee shop, the Corley's rounded out the team by inviting their friends Scott & Jana Clark (the Engineer & Interior Decorator) to come dream with us. So here we were, a heart surgeon, a musician, a pastor, a teacher, an engineer, an interior designer, a non-profit executive, and a mother of 6; all there to dream about opening up a coffee shop in Fort Worth. We met for hours dreaming about what it would be like, what it would look like, what we would serve, and where it should be. But the biggest part of our conversations, and what was the most exciting to all of us, was that we really wanted BREWED to be a place that blessed the city and people of Fort Worth. We wanted it to be a business that would give back to help non-profits, we wanted it to be a place that was warm and inviting where people would feel God's love when they were there. We wanted it to be a place where people from all walks of life would feel welcome and experience a sense of community. After the meeting we spent some time praying and we all asked God that if he was behind this idea, he would make it a reality and open the doors.
We started looking for a location and we continued to meet once a month for almost 2 years. We made plans, we dreamt, and we continued to pray for direction and favor. We found a location that we thought was perfect, but the landlord did not want to take the risk on 4 couples with no experience. We became discouraged and thought maybe BREWED was not meant to be. But what we thought to be a closed door was God protecting us from a location that would have been a disaster, because he had a better place in mind. Joey and I met after we got the bad news that location did not work and we both felt like maybe we should take a risk and try to find something on the Near Southside of Fort Worth on Magnolia Ave. At the time Magnolia was an area that had seen better days, but was an underground hub for artists and the counter culture of Fort Worth.
I hit the streets and found an old empty 1950's office building on the corner of Magnolia Ave & Hemphill. New restaurants had begun to pop up on Magnolia Ave, but this was pretty far down the street from any of the other new developments. But there was something magic about the spot and after showing it to the rest of the team, we felt like it had great potential and that it could one day be the center for pushing new development down Magnolia. I got connected with the owner of the building and pitched him our crazy idea of a new type of coffee shop. He was skeptical at first, but luckily took a leap of faith on us and said the building was ours if we could handle the construction of turning an old ugly 1950's office space into a place that people would actually want to visit.
The space was a whopping 4,000ft and much bigger than we had initially planned on. It seemed too large for a neighborhood coffee shop, so we started brainstorming about what it would look like to also maybe do desserts and also pastries. We hired a local architect to come up with some plans to add a kitchen to the building, but when we got the plans back and saw the construction costs back for our new "pastry kitchen", we were shocked. Let me let you in on a little restaurant industry secret, commercial kitchens are freaking expensive. Because it was going to be so much money to install a kitchen, we decided that we might as well serve a full menu to take advantage of what we were building and help offset the cost. It was at that moment, when we said yes to the kitchen, that BREWED became something bigger than we had ever imagined. We were now going to open up a coffee shop, pub, & full service restaurant.
It took us 9 months of construction, during which we added windows, changed walls, installed a kitchen, added old bricks (salvaged from a 1920's Chicago warehouse), put in a bar and ran tap lines, and completely transformed the space.
We officially opened our doors on 10/11/12. To our amazement the response was insane, hundreds of people showed up for our grand opening! We hit our capacity limit around 7pm and literally ran out of food at 8:30. Yes, that's right we RAN OUT OF FOOD. Ha, which it was cool that so many people came, but not cool for the hungry customers. It was crazy. Melissa was hostessing, I was bartending, David & Scott (the Cardiologist & Engineer) were washing dishes, Joey was bussing tables, and Dayna, Jana, and Lori were all running food and greeting guests. Needless to say, that first week was a little nuts. But we hired more people and eventually got the hang of the crazy beast that is the restaurant business.
3 years later, BREWED has become one of the most popular eateries in Fort Worth. We have won awards for our coffee, brunch, & food. I am proud to be a part of a place that has been a blessing to our community and neighborhood. I hope you can check it out one day!