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Conversations with John Couture

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Couture.

Hi John, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
In 2006, I went to Europe with my friend, Dan Kiefer.

We traveled to Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. In a brewery in Cologne, Germany, we discussed how much we loved the European presentation of beer. We appreciated how so many pubs and breweries were local gathering places. You may see a group of moms with strollers enjoying a pint next to an elderly man downing a liter.

We toasted and agreed that if we ever found a beer concept we liked, we would open our own business. Years later, I read about the “craft beer tasting bar/bottle shop” concept that had locations on the coasts, but none in the Midwest. A tasting bar/bottle shop combines a pub environment (food, drafts) with a packaged, to-go beer store.

So, among the tables of people enjoying beer, are coolers with six-packs and single bottles to go. It’s like the best of both worlds for beer people. I took some entrepreneurial business classes and we scratch together funds to open Bier Station in December 2012.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There have definitely been some ups and downs. We got off to a very strong start.

Craft beer is still popular but had its heyday up to about 2016. American consumers are a fickle bunch and like to jump from trend to trend. Since we’ve opened, we’ve seen the rise of craft spirits, cocktails, and most recently, the hard seltzer explosion, which has experienced growth way beyond craft beer’s history.

Then, COVID threw everyone for a loop. We are still trying to rebuild the business as COVID concerns linger, but the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Restaurant Revitalization Program really helped keep us afloat. When people wonder about the effectiveness of the programs.

I can tell you many businesses I know — including ours — may not have survived without them.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Bier Station is perhaps best known for our community charitable giving program. We love to support causes and craft breweries are always willing to chip in and sponsor events.

Just this week, we are hosting fundraisers for The Animal Rescue Alliance (T.A.R.A.) and Ukrainian relief. It helps our entire staff feel good about our work. If we can sell beer and help our community, why not?

What do you like best about our city? What do you like least?
I enjoy that KC is like the “biggest small town in the world”. Even though we are a decent-sized city, it seems like everyone is somehow only one or two degrees separated from each other. It helps build a sense of community.

I do think we could do better with racial equity and urban sprawl. I grew up in the urban core of the city and still live in the city proper. I’ve seen countless people bolt for the suburbs as soon as their baby bump first appears and cite “schools” as a reason for leaving.

When they say they love the city and really don’t want to leave, I ask if they even visited local options before leaving if they really wanted to stay. Most times they didn’t even try, which disappoints me. We can do better.

Contact Info:

  • Email: info@bierstation.com
  • Website: www.bierstation.com
  • Instagram: @bierstation
  • Facebook: bierstation
  • Twitter: @bierstation

Image Credits
The University of Missouri-Kansas City and Grace Pritchett

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