30 Aug Meet Tom Dennen: Owner of Bayberry Beer Hall
Rhode Island local businesses are our valued customers and friends at J&R marketing. We love featuring some of the vibrant local businesses and learning from their unique expertise. As part of this effort, we visited Bayberry Beer Hall, a German-inspired beer hall focused on craft beer and great food. They are new to the Providence restaurant scene and opened their doors just 1 year ago. In honor of their first anniversary we sat down to speak with owner, Tom Dennen, to discuss his entrepreneurial journey, craft beer, and their anniversary party!
Walking into Bayberry Beer Hall is a relaxing experience that is unlike any other bar. With real plants hanging from the walls that have been growing since the bar first opened, visitors are first struck by the incorporation of a natural landscape and slowly start taking in the lovely modern, yet rustic design of the bar.
Tom, where are you from?
Camden, Maine. It’s a small town on the coast.
How long have you been in Rhode Island?
5 years. My wife and I moved from Philadelphia where we met in college.
When exactly did bayberry beer hall open its doors?
August 31st, 2017.
Can you explain Bayberry Beer Hall to someone who has never heard of you before?
When we set out to do this it wasn’t just, let’s create another restaurant. As you can see, everything that we tried to do here is very unique. We don’t have waitstaff so it’s very casual. Come up to the order station and put in your order, sit where you like, and hang out as long as you want to.
What was the first beer you have ever tried?
Sad to say, I think the first beer I ever drank was a Coors Light. My brother, who is two years older than me, got me into craft beer a little bit. I think it’s a great time to be a beer drinker. It’s just fun. It’s always changing. There’s always a new brewery, always great people to hang with in the community and great stuff to try. It’s very exciting.
What is your go-to beer today?
I love IPA’s I think like everyone else. There’s a lot to be said about a sour farmhouse ale. I think it is becoming a more popular style. I’m not huge on stouts. I can appreciate them but I enjoy beer that quenches my thirst.
Can you Describe the Culture at Bayberry Beer Hall?
“We have such a close-knit team here. It’s 30 of us full-time and part-time. We’re closed on Mondays but every once in a while we try to do these field trips. Two Mondays ago we went to a goat farm where we get our cheese from. We hung out there and then we went to Fox Farm brewery. There was 25 of us and it was great being able to hang with the team off hours. They are having fun and they want to learn more about what it is we are doing and continue to grow all of our relationships. Natalie and I put all these individuals together under one roof. The fact that we all wanna hang out on our day off and become more educated and drink beers together, I think that’s really cool.
Are you planning to host an event for the 1 year anniversary?
Yes. That actually falls on a Friday, which is great, and we are putting together some stuff. We’re going to be teaming up with PVDonuts who we are super close with. We’re gonna be collaborating on a donut hole. We are planning to bring back popular dishes from when we opened back out on the menu as specials. Since people love our plants, and these plants grow and need to be trimmed back, we are going to trim them on the anniversary. This is so people can take them home and propagate them. Once the roots come up they can plant them themselves and have a piece of bayberry in their home to celebrate with us.
Who is the one person you could not have built Bayberry Beer Hall without?
My wife, Natalie. She was really the person that saw me on a day to day basis coming home from that corporate job and just being flat out miserable because it wasn’t what I wanted to do. The companies I worked for were fantastic. It just wasn’t for me. She was the one that really pushed me to get something going. She was like, “you know I will support us until we get the restaurant up and going.”
Take us through a typical day as the owner. What are your responsibilities here at Bayberry Beer Hall?
Biggest thing for me is curating the beer. That’s one thing that I focus on. The kitchen is run by the head chef. I let him do his thing. He’s an absolute mastermind in the kitchen and he’s got a great team. That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about much. It’s a lot of the little things like growing this business, what’s next for us, how do we continue to grow at Bayberry, and what are our future plans as a business.
How often do you add new beers to the menu at bayberry?
It changes daily. We have 14 drafts and a bunch of bottles and cans. We work closely with our distributors and brewers. We get in new beers that the brewers want us to try and then we get recommendations on what the distributor thinks might work well here.
What are Your Favorite Breweries?
Personally, I’m really big of a couple breweries right now.
Finback from Queens New York have been around for 4 years. Head brewer is from Lincoln, RI and he pops in here when he’s in town. Super nice guy. They take beer and reimagine it. We had a beer from them that was brewed with mango sticky rice and coconut!
Foxfarm is another great brewery. We are actually doing a tap takeover in 2 weeks. They’re in Salem CT and also a husband-wife team. It’s an old converted milk barn and overall beautiful facility.
You can visit Bayberry Beer Hall to congratulate Natalie and Tom on the hall’s first anniversary at 381 West Fountain Street on the west side of Providence.
Stay tuned for more from our ask an expert blog series highlighting some of our favorite local businesses.
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