Tony Kost of Terrestrial Brewing Company
The first thing I noticed about Tony Kost is that his email signature doesn’t say ‘General Manager,’ instead it says, “Generally Managing,” and once I met him in person it all clicked. Tony has the personality you want in your local bartender. His vision to help grow Terrestrial Brewing Company into more than just your average neighborhood bar is alive and well. Terrestrial is the place to go when you want above average service from a bartender who’ll definitely remember you the next time you stop in. Read on to learn how Tony ended up generally managing Terrestrial & it’s host of dog-centric events.
Haley Mills: What is the story behind how Terrestrial Brewing Company started?
TK: The owners, Ralph Sgro and Ryan Bennett, met while Ralph worked at Platform. Ralph was the general manager at Platform. Over a course of hanging out at the brewery, Ryan & Ralph got to know each other and decided that they wanted to open a brewery together.
HM: How did they end up in the Battery Park neighborhood?
TK: They shopped a lot of different spaces and looked around the city and this building just kind of sung to them. With wanting to keep Terrestrial as a neighborhood brewery, you know, kind of harkening back to your neighborhood bar kind of vibe. This area fit that with all of the surrounding residents plus it’s an amazing view of the lake - it's kind of hard to pass that up.
HM: Where did the name come from?
TK: Like terra - earth, you know, Ralph’s a big hippie, he’s a big fan of Phish and we also try to be as sustainable and as green as we possibly can. We kind of wanted the name to play to that a little bit.
HM: What are some of the ways that you stay green?
TK: We use locally sourced grain and malt and hops when we can. It doesn’t always work that way, some farms can’t meet the demand. We recycle as much of our grain as possible including, re-purposing it into dog treats or things like that. We do a lot of beach clean-ups and we are also very dog and animal friendly here. We have a bunch of different conservation things that we do - there’s the big conservation series with the Cleveland Zoological Society that we just launched, which is going to be all throughout 2019.
HM: Tell me more about that!
TK: It’s going to be a bunch of events here and then we will be at a few of the big events at the Zoo for 2019. We are also the feature brewery for their Tails & Cocktails series. We’re brewing at least four beers that a portion of sales will be donated to the Cleveland Zoological Society’s conservation efforts. In 2018, we did a series with the Greater Cleveland Aquarium where we raised money for the Spotted Turtle through the Splash Fund. We brewed a beer called the “Turtle Porter” 3 or 4 different times in 2018 and donated a portion of every sale of that beer throughout the year to the Splash Fund and we raised about $4,000. We have renewed our partnership with the Aquarium in 2019 as well!
HM: What sets Terrestrial apart?
TK: As the General Manager, something I always try to impress on the guys is that we have to be different than just another place to drink. There are so many other places in the greater Cleveland area to go and because where we are location-wise, we have to bring people here. It can’t just be, ‘oh they make beer,’ we have to be unique, we have to have cool events, and really have our own identity that people like. Thankfully we’ve cultivated that. We pride ourselves a lot on our level of service here, I mean my background is from very high-end restaurants, so for me, something I’ve always noticed, especially in the brewing community is that it's a little bit more lax. People don’t always approach it the same way, but I do. You need to have that level of service, it has to be friendly and accommodating. it can't just be, ‘hey, what do you want?’ That's not how I want us to do things here. It's something I think people come to expect from coming here is that there is a focus on service and being friendly and welcoming people into our home because that's what this is. Part of our success here is due to that.
HM: I definitely think you do a great job at that. I never feel like the bartenders here are troubled to pour me another taste of one of your beers.
TK: Thank you! With people that don’t drink beer, we offer a pretty wide variety of spirits and a decent selection of wines that aren’t just an afterthought because some people don't like beer and some people don’t like craft beer… and that's fine! Just because we make beer and that's our emphasis doesn’t mean it has to be the only thing that we offer.
HM: Do you have anything new coming up soon?
TK: We are moving Dog Brunch, one of our biggest monthly events, we do it every second and fourth Sunday of the month, to 10am now. We’re going to be doing 10:00 am - 3:00 pm now so it's more of an actual brunch. We’re really excited for that. We’ve nailed down a food vendor for our dog brunch that really fits our vision for dog brunch and really does a proper brunch, like stuffed french toast and eggs benedict. It’s already becoming synonymous with not just a, ‘hey we can bring our dogs and they also have food,’ people are actually coming here because the food is so good in addition to everything else we offer. We’re really excited to see where that takes us in the warm weather months. It’s beautiful here year-round but at the end of the day the spring and summer’s always our bread and butter.
HM: Is there anything else you want readers to know about Terrestrial?
TK: We are very thankful for everyone that supported us in the almost two years that we’ve been open and we’re really excited for everyone to see and be a part of us at the two year mark.
HM: Where is your favorite spot to have dinner in Cleveland?
TK: Salt in Lakewood. Jill is an amazing amazing woman and a phenomenal chef and a very long time friend. I try to support her whenever I can!
HM: Where is your favorite place to be in Cleveland?
TK: I’m pretty boring, at home with my dog. My bulldog, Oscar James, is my best friend in the whole wide world and I work so often that if I’m not at work, I would much rather be sitting on the couch playing video games and hanging out with him more than anywhere.
HM: What is your favorite event in Cleveland?
TK: I would say probably Taste of Tremont. I worked and lived in Tremont for a big portion of my career when I was younger and I was a part of the first couple of years of planning and shaping Taste of Tremont. I wasn’t on the board, but I worked at a restaurant that was one of the cornerstones of that neighborhood. Edgewater Live is really awesome, too.