Even Tony Gugino admits he's got a pretty cool job.
Even Tony Gugino admits he’s got a pretty cool job.
Gugino has spent the past two weeks in Columbus training the new bartenders and servers at World of Beer in the Brewery District.
“We hang around all day and talk about beer,” said Gugino, training manager with the Tampa, Fla.-based company.
There was a lot to learn — and the staff was put to the test. Employees were required to score 85 percent on two exams before being allowed to take the floor.
World of Beer carries 50 different beers on tap and another 500 in the bottle, with new craft brews constantly being introduced.
The exam curriculum included a broad range of information, including regions, styles, pours and appropriate glassware.
“What we’re trying to impart to the staff is knowledge and passion about beer,” Gugino said.
Julianne Kozar, an Ohio State graduate and World of Beer bartender, said preparing for the exams was the most fun she’s spent studying in quite some time.
“I think it’s phenomenal,” said Kozar, who looks forward to passing her newfound knowledge onto customers.
World of Beer will open Nov. 1 at 503 S. Front St., next to Shadowbox Live in the historic Worly Building. The 3,800-square-foot storefront will have seating for 170 on the first floor and 45 in an upper-level balcony. Retractable windows, in the style of Smith & Wollensky and Marcella’s, face Front Street.
Local developer Mark Pottschmidt of Stanbery Development and Darren Greene of the Polaris Grill brought World of Beer to the Columbus market. It is the first store outside of Florida, although one is expected to open in the next week or so in Raleigh, N.C.
Pottschmidt said the establishment is one of his tenants in Coconut Creek, Fla., and he thought it would be a good fit for central Ohio. He brought Greene, a restaurant veteran, into the partnership.
“I wasn’t sure the concept could work without food,” Greene said.
But considering the cost of installing expensive kitchen equipment, a ventilation system, training and additional staff, he was convinced food service would muddle the mission of the place.
“Really, it’s about the beer,” Greene said.
So, he and Pottschmidt have partnered with Shadowbox, Claddagh Irish Pub, T. Murray’s Bar and Kitchen and Plank’s restaurant, all of which will deliver food to World of Beer.
Many local and state breweries will be represented, such as Elevator Brewing Co., Columbus Brewing Co., Great Lakes Brewing Co. and Mount Carmel Brewing Co. Macrobrews such as Budweiser, Coors and Miller will not be part of the lineup, although a small selection of wines, four whites and four reds, will be available.
And, as if customers needed an incentive to try different beers, World of Beer offers a Loyalty Club membership for $15, which awards prizes, such as T-shirts, mugs and plaques, for those who drink different beers in 50, 100 and 250 increments. Those who try 500 win a party for 20 people.
A decade ago, wine bars were all the rage. Recently, purveyors of artisan brew have enjoyed a surge in popularity, as evidenced locally by the opening of Bodega, the Pub at Polaris and the Tilted Kilt, not to mention the Winking Lizard, a sort of elder statesman that has built a loyal following of craft-beer fans.
“Beer is much more accessible to a greater number of people, from an availability standpoint and price point,” Pottschmidt said. “There’s always been this variety; it just seems like now it’s more accessible and sought after.”