Opening a restaurant was always the plan for the pair
Thad and Jessica Kittrell always had an appreciation for beer. Their true passion, however, wasn't kindled until their children were born. (The Dublin couple-he's 42; she's 32-now have four kids ranging from two months to 7 years). "It really started when a certain group of friends had play dates," says Thad, a trained chef. "We would all bring a craft six pack and share them."
Soon, the interest evolved into home brewing and, eventually, a restaurant. 101 Beer Kitchen-a beer-focused gastropub featuring upscale bar food-opened in Dublin in the fall of 2012. Opening a restaurant was always the plan for the pair, who met while working in a restaurant (Thad in the kitchen, and Jessica in the front of the house). "We always knew we would do something on our own," says Jessica, who had a career in finance before opening 101. But, adds Thad, "in our wildest dreams we never thought we'd be this busy."
On 101's fast success
Thad: It's been more than we could ever imagine. We've been so many things to so many people. It's packed early with families, and then as the families start to die out we get the date nights and the groups of friends.
On the kids and the restaurant
Jessica: They walk in like they own the place. They yell at the servers. For example, there's an "in" door and an "out" door [to the kitchen]. They'll scold the servers if they go in the wrong door. They take a sense of ownership, too.
On cooking with the kids
Thad: It's a trial of patience, but we cook together quite a bit. We make pancakes. They all have their certain jobs. Our oldest daughter has the best palate by far.
Jessica: There are multiple step stools in the kitchen, so they are usually lined up next to him. Our oldest can pick out a flavor like he can.
On the state of their basement
Jessica: It's like the whole back of our basement's been turned into a test lab [for home brewing]. It's grains stacked on top of grains. Our freezer's full of hops. But it's fun; we like to do it.
On the beers they love
Thad: I'm very much a seasonal drinker. Fall and winter I like malt-heavy, Belgian type stuff. In spring and summer I prefer hops and saisons.
Jessica: I don't go there. I go into the more ambers. I like funky yeast characteristics, like Belgian styles and sour styles.
On the beer they serve
Thad: I say this jokingly, but we're a slave to no one. We made a conscious effort that we would put breweries that people recognized on tap, but not beers. On average [we sell] about 25 kegs a week. Our initial projections were if we could sell 25 kegs a month we'd be doing just fine.
Jessica: Our beer menu is very carefully and thoughtfully curated. We won't carry just anything. It has to be great. We only have 20 taps and there's a reason for it. We want it to always be fresh.