Proprietor John McIntosh (right), enjoys Fish ‘N Chips with Mike Kelley from Austin’s Bits and Druthers food trailer at the Barber Shop Bar’s recent first anniversary celebration.
The Barber Shop Bar opened just over a year ago on Mercer Street in Dripping Springs’ historic district. Owner John McIntosh talked to Around Dripping Springs about the well-attended 1st anniversary celebration, his first year in business, and what lies ahead for the proprietor and his patrons.
WHERE ARE YOU FROM, WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL, AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED AROUND DRIPPING SPRINGS?
I was born in Houston, but went to kindergarten in Dripping Springs and elementary in Wimberley. There wasn’t a high school in Wimberley at the time, so we moved back to Houston. I attended UT Austin and have a BA (English). I returned to Dripping in the mid 90’s and live on my family’s ranch which we have owned since the late 1960’s.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO DRIPPING SPRINGS?
I have always loved this area, and after a short career working for a forensic engineering firm after college, I knew I wasn’t cut out for 9-5 office life. I moved onto my family’s ranch and started an organic farm.
YOU PREVIOUSLY OWNED ANOTHER BUSINESS. TELL US ABOUT THAT.
I used to own Lost Truffle Farm with my ex-wife Elizabeth. We raised vegetables and cut-flowers. We bought an old truffle orchard off Prochnow Rd. (The whole Dripping as a truffle growing region is another story). Anyway, we ran a successful CSA and market garden for a number of years. We worked very hard and have some great memories, but eventually became burned out working such long hours. We started landscaping and Elizabeth opened a nursery (Bloom, in front of Rolling in Thyme and Dough). Our lives started to grow in different directions, pun intended, and we got a divorce. That’s about the time I started seriously looking into opening a brewpub in Dripping Springs.
SO WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN THE BARBER SHOP BAR?
I started homebrewing about 5 years ago. One Christmas, I was giving away bottles of beer I brewed, and the discussion started about why I couldn’t sell beer I made. The idea of a brewpub came up and everyone quickly realized that Dripping could really use a local watering hole. At that point, the search was on for the perfect location.
TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR SUCCESS IN THIS FIRST YEAR?
I think several things have been in our favor. Great location is key. Authentic rustic charm in the building that makes anyone feel at home, but not crossing the line to “dive-bar” status. Being the first bar in town certainly helps. The community desperately needed a gathering spot for friends and neighbors. I also think that having a great selection of local craft beer makes a difference.
HOW DID YOUR 1ST ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION GO?
We celebrated our first anniversary at the end of January. It was a huge success. We debuted our first house made, cask conditioned ales. These are beers that naturally carbonate and finish in a special type of keg called a firkin. It’s what is referred to in Great Britain as Real Ale. We also had Bits and Druthers food trailer come out from Austin and make Fish and Chips. The whole day was a blur until 11:30 when people finally started to leave and I could sit down. It was a great day and VERY gratifying to have all your customers come in to tell you thanks.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ANYONE HAS SAID TO YOU DURING YOUR FIRST YEAR?
Lots of amazing funny quotes that should NOT be printed here come to mind, but my favorite statement was something we heard all the time after we opened, ” I’ve met more of my neighbors in your bar in the past few weeks than I’ve met living in Dripping in the past few years.” I built long tables and benches to encourage people to sit with strangers and get to know the other members of the community.
HOW ABOUT THE FUNNIEST THING OR WORST THING (OR BOTH) SAID?
It happens each week as someone comes in and asks for a “haircut” while looking around for the barber chair. Everyone at the bar gets a chuckle and we add another number to the chalkboard.
SO, WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU AND FOR BARBER SHOP PATRONS?
We will continue to expand our beer offerings as I get comfortable with the brewing equipment. We’ll continue to make small improvements as they are needed, but we are hoping that we have set up the ideal community meeting spot and that we can just focus on offering a great place with great beer on tap.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I want to say Thank You again to everyone who has supported us in our first year, everyone who voted us New Business of the Year, and most importantly, everyone who came out and supported our Fireman’s for Firefighters Fundraiser. That was such an overwhelming success and allowed us to express our gratitude to the Firefighters of Hays county for all they do. Raising $10,000 in one night, with only 3 days planning is something to celebrate and really showed the strength of our community.
CONGRATS ON A SUCCESSFUL FIRST YEAR, FROM AROUND DRIPPING SPRINGS!
Visit the Barber Shop Bar online at www.barbershopbar.com
Follow Around Dripping Springs on Twitter @AroundDS