Beer:30, a bar located at the corner of 4th and Merchant Street, recently celebrated its third year of business. Owners Josh Olsen, senior management major, and Jared Olsen, 2006 Emporia State graduate, pride the bar on the variety of entertainment features that it offers.
“We have a dancing area if you want to dance,” said Josh. “If you want to hang out you can go to the lounge. If you want to be outside you can be outside. If you want play pool you can play pool. We offer everything but shuffle board. It’s the same with drinks. Pretty much, if people ask for it and we don’t have it, we’ll buy it.”
Jared stressed that Beer:30 is centered around satisfying the customer.
“When we opened the bar that was our goal,” said Jared. “Whatever it is you like, (we) have a place here for you. We tried to make a bar that we would want to go to, that’s it, no frills.”
Another goal that Josh and Jared have is to always keep the prices low, which is just one thing that they do to appeal to college students.
“We always wanted to offer cheap drinks and quality service, and it’s been our plan to attract the college crowd because the college will never go away,” Josh said.
To keep prices low, instead of hiring employees to cover slow shifts, they do it themselves. This is just one way that they quickly made a profit.
“One of the reasons we’ve been successful is because we keep labor costs low with us working,” Josh said. “The truth is, we paid our investment off in a year and a half so we could close down tomorrow and just say we had fun for three years.”
University ties also played a role in their success. Both Josh and Jared attended ESU and were members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
“Something that helped us out is that I just graduated and Josh is still in college so it was easy in terms of knowing people and being able to get the word of mouth out about the bar,” Jared said.
Another factor bringing in crowds is live music. Beer:30 hosts bands varying from rock’n’roll to bluegrass, and will eventually add a recording studio to their facility. Because of his experience, Josh manages the music.
“Josh does all the music stuff because he was in a band that was successful here in town,” Jared said. “He knows both sides, what they should be asking for and what we should be paying. He knows how to set up sound and has the contacts and all that stuff.”
However, not just anyone can play – the bands must be reviewed and selected.
“We screen our bands, they have to give us a demo and we have to like it,” Josh said. “There’s nothing worse than people leaving because of the music that is at the bar.”
Beer:30 also offers an open mic night every Thursday that has less stipulations for performers.
“People just walk in and play a song,” Jared said. “It’s actually hard to get time now because people just come and book it up really fast. It’s designed so that people who are just trying to play their music or trying to get in front of a crowd to get used to it can have that opportunity, and they also have to opportunity to meet other musicians in town. Several bands got started because of that open mic night.”
Events such as wedding receptions and graduations and fundraisers like Poker for Darfur and No-Shave November for breast cancer also take place at Beer:30, opening up business to a variety of people. This diversity is just one aspect that Kaila Mock, junior glass working major and regular at Beer:30, likes about the bar.
“It’s very welcoming,” Mock said. “There’s a whole different variety of people there but everyone gets along really well. And I love pretty much everyone that works there. They’re just all such cool guys, you can talk to them about anything.”
She said she also enjoys the relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
“I’ve known Josh for eight years, so we just hang out and watch football games and stuff,” Mock said. “There’s not people yelling and fighting, and it’s just really laid back. You can just sit there and talk.”
Jared said that regulars contribute largely to the bars’ calm reputation.
“We don’t have fights down here, and that’s a testament to our staff, but that’s the regulars too,” Jared said. “They keep their friends in line because they don’t want their bar messed with. We have the best regulars that you could ask for, they’ll take people home when they’re getting too rowdy. They’ll tell them they have to leave. They’ll cut their friends off, it happens all the time, and it’s just because they don’t want their bar screwed around with, or to have to come in the next day and say they’re sorry to us.”
The regulars as well as the employees give Jared reason to be enthusiastic about his work.
“We really appreciate the people who work here and the people who come often because we have made a ton of friends from this place, a ton of people we can count on,” Jared said.
Sarah Shaw/The Bulletin