Here Former Major League Baseball player, Owner of Loma Brewing Company, and SpotOn Restaurant Advisory Council member, Kevin Youkilis, talks about getting people to interact with each other, in real life, through the magic of craft beer.

At Loma Brewing Company, my overall goal is to try to get as many people off their cell phones as possible. To give them a break from all the stresses that are online, for the longest period of time. To create a moment in time and space where they don’t even realize they haven’t looked at their phones. Because I think people need people and while our phones have the capacity to bring us together, they also have the ability to drive us further apart.

Loma Brewing bringing people together with entertainment, activities, and good beer.

How am I going to do that? By providing people who visit Loma Brewing Company with really good entertainment and multiple activities that keep them moving around and interacting with each other. We have a really cool opportunity right now to grow our brewpub into a production brewery, event space, and taproom, with most of the guests’ spaces situated outdoors. We're going to provide as much entertainment as we can—whether it be live music, comedy, shows, or games like cornhole and soccer pole. We’re doing whatever we can do to create a space in which people can develop a sense of community.

So we’re really focused on people—whether that’s families out for dinner, a couple out for a date, or buddies out to watch a ball game. Whether they like the same beer or not, root for the same team or not, share the same ideals or not. It’s about coming together over a shared love of laughter and libations. The ability to sit down and just talk and communicate is strangely becoming a lost art. We’re creating a space that offers the opportunity to connect with somebody that’s right down the street from you, who you might not have met in your typical circles.

I think we were always headed in this direction, but COVID really nudged us more toward creating this vision outdoors. We’re going to have heaters for the cooler weather and misters for the hotter weather, but the idea is to give people a space in which they feel comfortable and safe to come together and set aside life’s stresses and differences for a night. That's one of the biggest problems right now, you know, people can't escape.

A sampling of menus at Loma Brewing.

No one could have ever prepared us for what we just dealt with over the last year and a half with COVID. There's been a lot of trial and tribulation. Through it all, I really thought it was going to go a lot easier. But I’m reminded that the best part of life is that moment when things don’t come easy to you, when you have to work harder and smarter, not necessarily longer. A really good lesson I learned from baseball is that if I go into the batting cage and have to hit 150 baseballs I’m going to be way worse off than if I go in there and hit 30 or 40 balls. I just need to get some good work in, be efficient, not overdo it. It’s all about figuring out how to put in the work and do it right.

In the last year and a half, that’s meant being flexible. Pivoting has been crucial. I think that there's an incredible lesson in being adaptable, and just growing and learning as you go. It’s so important to learn how counterproductive it is to just put your stake in the ground and say, "This is who we are, this is what we do." I mean, you can put a little stake in the ground, but you’ve got to be able to move it over a foot here and there. I just hope that with all we went through during COVID, we can evolve—as a business, and as people—to be something bigger and better down the road. Being more connected feels like a good direction.

Read more from the Real Talk with Restaurateurs blog series.

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