Kailua’s newest craft beer tasting room has a purpose. Grace in Growlers is a 100% nonprofit, self-serve craft beer tasting room, complete with board games and communal tables. It is unlike any other place I’ve ever been in Hawaii.
I visited Grace in Growlers several times over the past few months, and I quickly fell in love not only with the tasting room but also with its mission. As a blogger always on the hunt for the best things in Hawaii, I felt compelled to sit down and talk to one of its owners, Holly, to spread the word about what she and her husband are doing for our community. She graciously welcomed me and sat down with me to chat.
For Holly and her husband, Tim, Grace in Growlers is a vision that was three years in the making when they opened their doors in October 2016.
Originally from San Francisco, the couple honeymooned in Hawaii 16 years ago and had always dreamed of moving here. When Holly was offered a job transfer to Hawaii at her job at AAA six years ago, they jumped at the chance. Two weeks later, they moved to Hawaii.
For a long time, the couple searched for a meaningful way to combine their love for people and community service. One day while sitting at a bar in Chicago, they realized they could use their love for craft beer to not only serve but also to strengthen their community in Hawaii.
Over the next three years, they started a nonprofit organization in Hawaii to help make their vision a reality. They worked with several local restaurants, collecting their recyclables, sorting them, and depositing them for cash.
They used the money they earned for their first community service project, Laundry Love.
Two Saturdays per month, they pay for everyone’s laundry at a laundromat. In Hawaii, a load of laundry costs about $8 at the laundromat – a prohibitive cost to many. With their warm demeanor, Tim and Holly take over the laundromat, providing food and company while they pay for everyone’s laundry.
Primarily serving the homeless population, this act of service also strengthens relationships within the community. Not only do Tim and Holly pay for everyone’s laundry, but they also stay at the laundromat and talk to whoever is there that night. Over the years, they have developed relationships with many patrons who come back every other Saturday to do their laundry and talk to Tim and Holly.
Soon after starting Laundry Love and financing it with recyclables, the couple found the right location in Kailua to open Grace in Growlers.
Building both community relationships and community service are the two primary goals of both Grace in Growlers and Laundry Love.
“We are partnering with our patrons to make a difference in the world,” said Holly.
Everything about Grace in Growlers deliberately serves this mission, from the beer that they choose to the setup of the room.
When you walk into Grace in Growlers, the first thing you notice is the long communal table (there are smaller tables off to the side if you prefer a more intimate setting). The communal table was done with intention, to encourage conversation among strangers. Holly fondly noted that many people enter strangers and leave as friends, exchanging phone numbers and making plans. Because of this, Grace in Growlers has become a community gathering place.
The first thing you do when you enter Grace in Growlers is show your ID. In return, you receive a bracelet. The bracelet enables you to use the self-pour machines. Tim and Holly bring you to the back wall and show you how to use these machines. Each beer has a screen above it that explains a little bit about the beer.
The bracelet electronically tracks how much you drink for payment purposes and makes sure you don’t go over the 36 oz limit.
There are a few reasons for the 36 oz limit. As Holly explained to me, she and her husband strive to be responsible business owners. As a nonprofit, they do not believe that creating a bar scene and making money off of people excessively drinking is a good way to strengthen the community. Although this results in less profit for them, they hold onto their convictions, and this is what makes Grace in Growlers such a unique and fun place.
They also like the vibe that the limit creates. People come to Grace in Growlers to try a few different kinds of craft beer, to hang out with friends, and play some games. This also creates a family-friendly atmosphere – you will see kids eating pizza and playing games with their parents on Friday nights. Tim and Holly have intentionally created a very different atmosphere than your regular local bar.
There is also no TV at Grace in Growlers, as you would expect in most other bars. The absence of a TV encourages conversation and makes customers focus on being present with the people around them. Stacks of board games beg to be opened, which often results in strangers playing games with each other across the table.
Grace in Growlers does not serve food, but it encourages patrons to bring their own. With the goal of helping to build other community businesses, Tim and Holly have partnered with local restaurants. These local restaurants will deliver food right to Grace in Growlers. Some offer discounts to patrons of Grace in Growlers as well.
Another way that Tim and Holly strive to strengthen the local community through Grace in Growlers is through the beer they serve. Most of the beer that is from local Hawaiian craft breweries. There are some beers from the mainland, but Tim and Holly are very selective in which beers they choose.
During the day, people come to Grace in Growlers with their laptops to do work, sip on a beer or two, and enjoy free wifi. At night, the games and pizza flow.
The community relationships extend beyond the tasting room to the ways that Tim and Holly choose to serve the community.
100% of their profits beyond operating costs go toward community service. The first is through Laundry Love, which some patrons of Grace in Growlers have become involved in. This brings everything together – people come to Grace in Growlers to hang out and try some beer, and leave as volunteers with new friends. The community is strengthened, and relationships are formed.
The second is through its overseas endeavors. The nonprofit supports five children living in poverty in other countries. The photos of three of these children can be found up on the walls, along with other photos that tell their story. They hope to expand their service as the tasting room grows.
Tim and Holly’s vision and values are present in everything about Grace in Growlers. When you come to Hawaii on vacation, I encourage you to stop by and try some local beers. What better way to be a conscious visitor to Hawaii than by helping our community?
For more information about Grace in Growlers, click here. For more information about local businesses to support during your Hawaiian vacation, give us a call and talk to one of our travel agents. We live, work, and play here, and we can direct you to our favorite local businesses.
Posted by: Bruce Fisher