18 Apr Greek’s Pizzeria Creates “Brand Friendship” With Quaff ON! Brewing, Opens New Broad Ripple Tap Room
Beer collaborations are almost always a good idea. Brewers might collaborate with another brewery, with a company, with an event – the possibilities are almost limitless. In the broadest sense of the word, these collaborations are types of co-branding, where a single product or service is associated with more than one identifiable brand. Co-branding is the more business-y term; I like the word collaboration better; however, Greek’s Pizzeria and Quaff On! Brewing are taking the idea to a whole new level. And for that they have invented a new term – brand friendship – no formal relationship, just a camaraderie.
Greek’s Pizzeria, established in Indiana in the 1960s, has expanded to be one of the most popular pizza chains in the state. That’s not surprising, since the Greek culture has been baking flatbreads with toppings since before the Roman Empire ever conceived of their version of pizza. Greek’s has franchises in twenty Indiana cities and towns, with menus that include pizza pies, salads, and calzones called shells. Oh, and they have craft beer too.
The owner of Greek’s Pizzeria, the Karamesines family, have a multi-location owner named Josh Trisler. Recently, Josh has considered the possibility of simplifying his life. Both local craft beer and Greek’s Pizzeria have huge followings, and Josh sees many beer drinkers and pizza eaters as brand loyalists, so why not bring the two loyalties together? What if he featured a single brewery’s beer in his franchises, with 20% of the remaining taps reserved for other guests? An intriguing idea, but who should he approach as a featured brewery? It should be someone with whom he could build a relationship.
Josh was (and is) a huge fan of Quaff On! beer, so this was one of the breweries he approached. Low and behold, Jeff McCabe, the owner of Quaff On! attended Carmel High School a couple of decades prior to Josh’s graduation from the same institution. In fact, they both ran cross-country for legendary coach Chuck Koeppen. Both men still love to run, love craft beer, and love pizza. This smelled like a friendship in the making. And what’s more, Danny Webb of Quaff On! is another runner and former running coach, who just happens to be the point man for discussions of what might be possible between Greeks and Quaff On! This sealed the deal on the idea of producing some friendship-driven interaction between these two Indiana companies.
Step forward in time a couple months, and Greek’s is opening a taproom in So-Bro (49th and College Ave. in Indianapolis), featuring Quaff On! beer, with early May as a pretty solid opening window. Located across the street from Upland Taproom and Open Society Public House, one can tell even from outside that this Greek’s is just a little bit different. The signage indicates it is a taproom, and there is a huge mural of the Quaff On! and Greek’s logos by local beer artist Travis Neal on the brick wall at the corner of the building closest to College Avenue.
Downstairs (The Bunker) is a Greek’s Pizzeria that carries on the tradition of being a family-friendly restaurant with their standard menu and serving beer to the tables. But upstairs, “The Vault” is a 21+ taproom where you can still get all the Greek’s food, but has a bar with 15 taps. Most of these taps will be devoted to Quaff On! beers, so their fans won’t have to travel to Speedway, Bloomington, or Nashville to get some Hare Trigger or Busted Knuckle.
As you enter the establishment, to the left is the family-friendly Greek’s Pizzeria, but the path to the right definitely lets you know that you will end up some place different. The hallway is dark and black lights give an eerie glow to everything. As you move up the hidden stairway, use see strings of LED lights that look like they are coming from space, directed down to points on a map of the good ol’ USA. Vintage Indiana license plates on the risers harken back to earlier days, primarily the 50s and 60s – the era of the space race and the Cold War.
Josh and I have turned out to be kindred souls – geeks to the nth degree. So I really dig the style they have decided on for the taproom. It isn’t cluttered; it’s eclectic. From the 1960s miniature plastic men (can you find them all?) to the Soviet space program memorabilia and the molecular model sculptures, everything is a throw back to 50s and 60s, the space age and sci-fi, and of, course, Indiana nostalgia. The building itself has been in one Indiana family’s possession since the early 1980s, and much of the kitschy art and craft products reflect Indiana and are done by Indiana artists.
That Indiana connection is big for both Quaff On! and Greek’s Pizzeria. They are a natural fit because they both are proud to be Hoosiers and they want to support Indiana companies and Hoosiers in general. To that end, one of the lesser know perks for the neighborhood of this friendship arrangement is the Greek’s Pizzeria can make beer deliveries with their pizza – up to 15.5 gallons per order – that’s a keg per person! And they plan on having taps for rent as well. Did I mention that Butler University is just one mile to the west? Location, Location, Location. Since Greek’s Taproom will feature Quaff On! Beer, this works out well for them too.
Quaff On! Brewing began in 2009 in Nashville, IN with a single Big Woods Pizzeria. The success of this venture led to a second brewery in Nashville and the Big Woods Pizza Company. In 2012, the production facility for Quaff On! Took shape outside Nashville, and later with the acquisition of the facilities of Three Pints Brewing, they could distribute beer to more parts of the state. This was followed by the Big Woods Pizza restaurants in Bloomington and Speedway.
Each expansion was built upon the success of the prior undertakings, giving positive proof as to the demand for their products. The expansions continue in state, with a Big Woods Restaurant opening in Franklin this month, and the production brewery will need to be making as much as possible when the Greek’s Pizzeria taproom opens and begins to makes demands on Zink Distributing for more and more of the Six Foot Blonde, the Common Necessity coffee and hazelnut milk stout, and the rest of the Quaff On! offerings.
For now, if you love Greek’s pizza or if you love Quaff On! beer – and especially if love both – head to Indianapolis and the oh-so-hip So Bro neighborhood (home to Upland’s taproom, Twenty Tap [look for them to reopen in late May – yeah!!!], Black Circle Brewing, and the hockey-obsessed Sinking Ship) to witness a new level of co-branding in craft beer and a unique friendship blossom. Music, sports on the TVs, approachable style by the handful, and stellar food and beer – this is an interesting place in every sense of the word. And who knows, you could be part of the birth of a new age in craft beer – like entering the space and nuclear ages so well represented in the Vault Taproom.