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At this pub, it's the little things that matter

Rochester Business Journal
January 10, 2014

At 485 square feet, Half Pint Pub may live up to its name in size, but its contribution to the fabric of the Park Avenue neighborhood continues to grow.
 
The pub's goal is to grow by eight to 10 percent in 2014 as it has in years past.
 
"We have families come in here together; it's really a neighborhood bar," says John Diamantopoulos, 53, owner of Wilmer Associates Inc., which does business as Half Pint. "It's not 20-somethings; it's across the board.
 
"It's just a great drinking atmosphere. People don't even feel like they're in Rochester when they're in here; that's what they always tell me. They feel like they're somewhere else."
 
Opened on the night before the Park Ave Summer Art Fest in the summer of 2011, the Irish pub prides itself on a selection of craft beers that changes weekly. Customers can get two different half-pints of beer for the price of a pint.
 
"We always had the half-pints, and our draft line has always been decent, but we've kind of gotten the reputation now of a little mini Tap and Mallet (a Gregory Street pub with 30 tap lines) which has hundreds of different beers that you don't find anywhere," says Nick Galante, general manager. "We're kind of like a mini beer bar."
 
Diamantopoulos had wanted to open a pub on Park Avenue in the past but was not sure it would fit with the early evening clientele in the neighborhood. After succeeding with his other local businesses, including Murphy's Law Irish Pub, Magpie Pub, Victoire Belgian Beer Bar and Lola Bistro, he decided to open Half Pint.
 
Its location at the corner of Oxford Street and Park has housed a variety of businesses, mainly food venues, including a pizza place and a hot dog establishment. Half Pint is one of the most recent buildings to be resurrected on Park Avenue, one of Rochester's oldest neighborhoods, which dates back to 1852. Many customers frequent the pub by foot and enjoy the patio in the summer to people-watch, Diamantopoulos says.
 
Inside, the traditional rugs and dimmed lighting have a purpose.
 
"It's not a loud, rowdy place; it's very intimate and conversation-based," Diamantopoulos says. "I try to keep the music below conversation level. I don't want it to chase away people. I want people to come in and relax, kind of an extension of their living areas."
 
Given its range of patrons, purchasing inventory for the pub's 14 tap lines can be a challenge. The three beers that are mainstays for the business are Abita Brewing Co.'s Purple Haze, stout from Guinness Storehouse Ltd. and Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc.'s Shocktop.
 
"You try to please as many people as you can," Galante says. "It's funny, because a lot of people-guys or girls that just aren't familiar with craft beers-will drink (one) because everybody else in here is drinking out of half-pints."
 
The pub can hold 49 occupants, and with eight employees, size does play a role in the business model.
 
"Small to us is better. It's not the bigger, the better," Diamantopoulos says.
 
Ultimately, the vibe of the neighborhood is key to Half Pint.
 
"I think for the average person it's a real Park Avenue flavor," Diamantopoulos says. "People that are around here come down. You get a real good feel for the avenue and what's going on here. (For) a Park Avenue experience, this is very indicative of that."

Small Business is a biweekly feature focusing on entrepreneurs. Send suggestions for future Small Business stories to Associate Editor Smriti Jacob at sjacob@rbj.net.

1/10/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email service@rbj.net.


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