Editor’s Note: This story is part of our ‘Post Picks’ special issue where The Post profiles some of Athens’ most notable people and businesses. Read the rest of the stories here.
Students from around Ohio may have tasted Jackie O’s beer before coming to the brewery’s home in Athens.
Post readers picked Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, 24 W. Union St., as the place Athens couldn’t live without because of its beer, local food and friendly atmosphere.
“I feel that we have a very high standard in terms of quality of the product and quality of service,” Bruce Reede, the manager at Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, said. “I think it’s a very inviting atmosphere for townies and students alike.”
Reede said a lot of Jackie O’s popularity comes from the beer they brew and sell. Jackie O’s brews 16 beers on draft and 10 bottled beers, according to its website.
Jackie O’s recently expanded its taproom at 25 Campbell St. It upgraded its facility to include a total of 120 barrel tanks rather than the 40 the taproom previously had. The increase allows them to brew and distribute more beer throughout the state, Matthew Spolar, the director of marketing for Jackie O’s, said.
“I think that in Ohio, whether you’re talking breweries or sports teams or anything, Ohioans have pride in Ohio,” Spolar said. “As a Bobcat myself, I’m like ‘Ohio for life.’ ‘Bobcats for life.’ ”
Jackie O’s sells its products to more than 3,000 different accounts in Ohio, including in cities like Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati, Spolar said.
“For the time being, our focus is Ohio,” Spolar said. “We’re from here. We brew here. We’d like to keep it here for now. For the next few years, we’re definitely looking to be an Ohio brewery and grow within the state of Ohio. There’s plenty of growth to be had here.”
Jackie O’s arranges beer-tasting dinners around Ohio as a way to meet customers and to spread its beer, Spolar said. On Dec. 7, Jackie O’s will have a meet and greet at the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland where people can taste Jackie O’s beer.
“When the product is good, and the service is good, people talk about it and want to try it out,” Reede said.
Spolar said there are some other great breweries in Ohio, such as Thirsty Dog Brewing Co. and Great Lakes Brewing Company.
“There’s a lot of great breweries making some great products,” Spolar said. “It’s awesome to watch the Midwest grow with the brewing industry.”
Valerie Larkin, a sophomore studying pre-nursing, has been to Jackie O’s and said it was relaxing and had a “fun atmosphere.”
“I went there last summer, and we sat out on the deck, the outside part, and that was really fun,” Larkin said. “We got appetizers and really good food. Really good service as well. The bartenders and waitresses were really nice and friendly.”
Although it is not the only restaurant to source locally, Jackie O’s local food also helps get people in the door, Reede said.
Jackie O’s offers different burgers, pizzas and sandwiches. They also offer vegetarian dishes, such as hummus wraps and falafel. The brewpub makes the Vegan, a pizza topped with onion, artichoke, red peppers and spinach, along with other vegetarian and vegan pizzas, according to its menu.
The pub and brewery tries to act as sustainable as possible, Spolar said. Half of the grain from the brewery process is taken to its ranch to feed cows that will later become beef for burgers in the restaurant. The other half of the grain goes to bread for the bakery. When people order pizza at Jackie O’s, for example, that’s the grain from the brewery process, Spolar said.
“Everything we do comes full circle,” Spolar said. “We try to tie everything together that we can. That comes from our slogan, which is ‘sustainably crafted with purpose.’ ”