Bay Area Power Couples: City Beer Store's Craig & Beth Wathen
It's hard to start a business in the Bay Area. And even harder to make it successful. We're inspired by the couples who have done it together and have decided to highlight them every week in our "Bay Area Power Couples" blog series.
For beer geeks, City Beer Store is like Oz. Here, they stock some of the best beers in the world (you can even mix and match six packs) and offer pairing sessions and tastings (they're holding a chocolate truffle and beer tasting event on October 21). Every Thursday is also flight night, where they feature a selection of beers to taste alongside one another for comparison. The folks behind this mecca are Craig and Beth Wathen, who, it goes without saying, are beer gurus and geniuses. They're this week's Power Couple.
How do you and Beth bond over beer?
We love to combine beer and travel. We pick a city with a good beer scene and head out for a quick weekend trip when we can. It combines our love for beer, travel, and good food. We particularly like San Diego and Portland.
Since starting the business together, how has it changed your relationship? How do you influence each other, come up with new ideas for the store?
It takes the idea of partnership to a new level. We have had to find a way to function as business partners as well as partners in life. We departmentalize the business decisions by setting up specific set times to meet and discuss issues with the store.
What's the best and worst thing about working with your spouse?
The best thing is having the time together. Most couples spend quite a lot of time apart from each other during a given work week. The worst thing is having too much time together....especially for Beth :)
What do you guys do to get away from the business? Do you have any favorite beer bars you like to frequent?
We have to "physically" get away from the business to get away from the business. We close down completely one week in summer and one week in winter to recharge our batteries each year. Even if we had the staff to cover these weeks, I think we would still need the breaks.
We love Monk's Kettle and Toronado of course, but also enjoy that in San Francisco you can walk into just about any neighborhood bar and find a least one good beer on tap.
Any advice for couples who run a business together, or are thinking about starting one together?
Pick something you both love to do. The amount of time involved in maintaining any small business will eventually get to you. You need to find something you truly believe in.
Any beers your shop carries that you can recommend for Oktoberfest celebrations?
On draught we have the local Iron Springs' Oktoberfest, which is heartier and maltier than most Oktoberfest beers and bottled, we have Hacker-Pschorr's Original Oktoberfest beer, which is an amber brew.