Behind Bars: Sammy Beers at Knotty Pine
When the nearly 80-year-old Knotty Pine restaurant closed its doors in 2012, the owners left behind boxes of memorabilia, from old tap handles to black-and-white photos of joyful drinkers. Today, the framed pictures decorate the window ledges of the new Knotty Pine Brewing, which has no affiliation with the beloved Grandview establishment.
“We'll have older gentlemen come in and they'll be like, ‘I know this guy [in the picture],'” said bartender Sammy Beers, who came on board shortly after Knotty Pine Brewing opened in March 2015 (Rude Dog Bar & Grill operated in the space briefly before the brewery opened).
But the photos are not the only ghosts of Knotty Pines past in the building. Some employees are convinced an actual spirit lurks there, too.
“They think he hides in the basement,” said Beers, who likes to tell them the ghost is actually a woman named Mary.
“I like that it weirds them out,” she said of the made-up name. “I think it's an old building that makes some weird noises. … I close this place down by myself and if I genuinely believed it, I wouldn't be able to [do so].”
Beers' moniker for the ghost may have been inspired by Maria Ciccone, who opened the original Knotty Pine with her husband, Biase, in 1935. A photo of the Ciccones is prominently displayed at the entrance, along with a quote from Maria.
Like its predecessor, Knotty Pine Brewing includes Italian fare on its menu, though Beers' favorite options are the chicken wings and the salmon salad.
“Our original menu was very small,” Beers said. She also mentioned the team has made changes since opening to better appeal to the customer base. “It just took some time to build up momentum. We had to work some kinks out and get people to come back.”
Patrons include longtime Grandview residents and young professionals, Beers said. “One side of the bar could be packed full of people that are old enough to be my grandma, and the other side is people that want shots of Jagermeister,” she explained.
“[But] I really think people come for the beer,” Beers continued. The bar carries 23 revolving beers on tap, including its own brews, like the Mirror Lake IPA, which is a best-seller.
“I love being so involved with [the brewery industry],” Beers said. “You get to know these beer reps, especially the smaller places. They're the ones coming in and selling their beer. … I love how much we know about each other and how we're growing together.”