- September 26, 2019
Building a community through creativity.
Years ago, Michael Grubb and his business partner tom Kane became friends standing on the sidelines of their daughters’ basketball games. The two embarked on a venture, which became Brick & Brew. But, Brick & Brew wasn’t ever going to be just another pizza & beer joint. Grubb and Kane wanted to give people a Center City experience in the suburbs. Now, six years since the launch of their original Havertown location in 2013, they have restaurants in Media and Malvern as well. Heady Times met up with Grubb, who filled us in on the expansion and what makes his thriving businesses so successful.
Heady Times (HT): How did the idea for Brick & Brew come about?
Michael Grubb (MG): I was once a health club director in Center City, while also working as a bartender and doorman, because I had an interest in restaurants and beer. Tom (Kane), my now partner, pitched me the idea of opening a restaurant together and I was really excited about it. We went to Peabody’s in Havertown and spoke to the owner, who mentioned she was looking to sell the place. We looked at each other and immediately asked her for the numbers. From there, it all fell into place.
HT: What is a “Center City experience?” How has it added to your success?
MG: My industry experience came from the city, which has a lot of unique restaurants, places that aren’t afraid to be bold or try something new. We wanted to adapt that approach and offer customers a unique experience. We are known for our cocktails and make a lot of the ingredients in-house. We also encourage our chef to get creative with specials and new menu additions. I think it creates a fun and fresh experience for our customers. We have created a very social environment and we aren’t afraid to try something new if it will keep people coming back!
HT: Clearly things have worked out. You have three locations now, which is no easy task! When did you realize this was working?
MG: When Havertown took off. We had no expectations – we just wanted to be different. Craft beer blew up and I was knowledgeable about that part of the business. We knew we wanted to offer good beer and brick oven pizza, because no other restaurants in Havertown offered it. Everyone loves pizza and beer. When we saw things going consistently well in Havertown, we decided to explore other small towns where Brick & Brew would fill a similar gap in the restaurant scene. That led us to Media, where we opened our second location in 2016.
HT: How did you choose Malvern as your third location?
MG: Malvern actually found us. One of our customers purchased the building and wanted to partner with us, making it our third location. All our restaurants are in the heart of suburban, downtown areas. This pocket of Malvern gave us that same small-town feeling, so we went for it. We want the residents to feel a connection to their local Brick & Brew. For example, the Havertown restaurant is in an old firehouse. We kept the original brick, the pole box and most of the structure intact. The building reminds everyone of the town’s history. In Media, our tables are literally built on old trolley tracks.
HT: How has your role as the ‘craft beer guy’ played a role in the business over the years?
MG: We’ve always focused on variety because we know our customers all have different tastes. Highlighting local products has been the most important. We appreciate being able to build good relationships with these breweries. We’ve become great friends with the guys from 2SP. Mike [Contreras] and I were setting up a meeting once and he was coming from Center City, so I jokingly told him to bring the cannoli. I wasn’t serious, but he brought them! I was blown away. These guys are great because they go the extra mile and I now consider them friends.
HT: How has Origlio helped in the success of Brick & Brew?
MG: I remember each one of my original Origlio reps – they were the people who helped us get started. Whatever we needed, they were always there, which was huge and made a lasting impression on us. The consistency of the company has always been great and Origlio reps make sure we are up to date on what’s hot.
BrickandBrewPub.com • 400 E. King St., Malvern • 484-320-8688