Alicia Palaniuk | Co-Owner/Founder of State Street Beer Company
Watch Her Hustle is baaaaack! Hey everyone. Today I’m so excited to be sharing a recent conversation with one of the founders and owners of one of Tacoma’s little treasures: State Street Beer Company. This bar is seriously one of the more gorgeous places I’ve had a beer. Seriously. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Time for the story behind this great space. Alright, let’s drive on in: Watch Her Hustle and State Street Beer Company.
Poppyseed! Hey Alicia! Welcome to WHH. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Alicia Palaniuk: Gosh, thanks so much for having me! My name is Alicia and I am co-owner of a sweet little beer bar in Tacoma, WA called State Street Beer Company.
PS: So… I feel like everyone at some point talks about opening a bar (my husband included). What made you guys want to open State Street?
AP: My fiancé / business partner and I have been in food and beverage service for roughly 10 years each. A few years ago we set out to find a city that we could afford to buy a house and start a business in. While visiting just about every city surrounding Seattle, we stumbled upon the space that is now State Street Beer Co. We had been driving down to Tacoma, from Seattle, for about 6 months and had actually driven by the space while it was still occupied. We dreamed about having a quaint little neighborhood spot behind its wooden garage door. One day we drove by and realized it was vacant and immediately called the leasing agent. The entire way home we brainstormed the best type of business for the space. We looked at it the next week, submitted our business plan a few weeks later and signed the lease without looking back. A beer bar wasn't necessarily our plan before we stumbled up the location but State Street's concept felt right for the space and neighborhood.
PS: What did you do before State Street? What was it like breaking into being an entrepreneur?
AP: Just prior to State Street we both worked at a brewery in Seattle along with another part time job to save, save, save! I was pregnant at the time so we were ready to get things moving in prep for baby. It's hard to say if it was entrepreneurship, recently having a baby, moving to a new city or buying a house but most likely a combination of the four. The first year was stressful, exciting, nerve-wracking, exhausting, and a ton of fun. Looking back now, it was actually a really great time to start a business. We worked on building out the space for the first 8 months of our son's life. By saving so much the year prior, it allowed us a lot of time together and a flexible schedule.
PS: Ah! I love this because I was also pregnant when a launched Poppyseed! Major fist bump! Ok. Why the name State Street?
AP: State Street Beer Company because we're located on State Street! We like the simplicity in the name and wanted people to remember where we're located.
PS: Nice and easy. I like it. So, how do you like living in Tacoma coming from Seattle?
AP: Tacoma has been so kind to us. I was nervous to move to smaller, unfamiliar city with a brand new baby and business. Especially without friends or family in town. I didn't love it at first and honestly am just starting to catch my stride here. But State Street has allowed us to meet so many genuine folks that quickly welcomed us to the area. We love that we know our neighbors and that people acknowledge each other on the street. We also love how many families we've met through the bar and the exciting energy that’s buzzing around right now. We're really grateful to get to be a part of it.
PS: Totally agree. And thanks for choosing Tacoma to open. You’re one of the people making the buzz:) Ok, so what is it like starting a business and working with your partner? Is it crazy?
AP: Dusty and I met working in coffee. We became good friends and later started dating. I think our initial attraction to one another was because of how well we worked together. There is this unspoken rhythm, in service, that naturally happens when you work with someone on a similar wavelength. It's almost as if you're dancing behind the bar together.
Dust and I have the same values in quality of service and similar taste in food and aesthetics. Working together definitely has its challenges but I wouldn't own a business with anyone other than him. We're a really good team and enjoy our "date nights" dancing behind the bar together :)
PS: Awe. That is so awesome and ridiculously adorable. So, now that you guys have gone through it what advice do you have for those wanting to open their own bar?
AP: Oh man.
- Work in the type of bar/restaurant you envision opening. State Street runs smoothly and efficiently because we the took time to really work out the flow and had experience in the type of service we provide.
- Keep it simple. Figure out your clientele and when new opportunities or ideas arise, continuously ask yourself if it benefits them or how it will affect their patronage.
- Atmosphere is everything. Hire a designer or research the heck out of what creates an inviting and comfortable place for people to hang out.
PS: We're all about women empowering women. What women in your life have empowered you?
AP: Girlfriends, man. I've started a few different businesses throughout my life and I have relied heavily on the encouragement from my girlfriends to start them and keep them running. My aunt and I are also really close. She's an encaustic artist so we are regularly encouraging and supporting each other. And my mother-in-law (to be) is incredibly empowering. She has a naturally positive spirit and truly believes the skies the limit when it comes to shaping your own life. I feel so lucky to have her as part of my family.
I don't naturally believe in myself most the time. I'm not a huge risk taker and I take a really long time to make a decision. I definitely wouldn't be where I am today, physically or mentally without most the women in my life. Thank god for them.
PS: YES! Female community for the W.I.N. Now, onto a more serious question: what's your favorite kind of beer?
AP: Well, I hate to be so predictable but I generally lean toward an IPA. The crazy New England style IPA is practically juice these days.
PS: Ha! Love it. Love State Street and you even more now. So what are your summer hours? I heard something exciting is happening soon??
AP: We just extended our hours this month actually. We're open from 11am-11pm everyday but Sunday we're open 11am-10pm. We just turned one this June and are very excited about it! Saturday (TOMORROW) July 28th is our birthday party. You should come! We don't hold regular events but do post about them on our INSTA when we do, so follow us! Thank you so much for inviting me here, Rebekah. I really enjoy how supportive you are of other women. It's so refreshing. XO
PS: ALWAYS! Thank you so much for chatting and for being so honest and open about your journey into entrepreneurship. Alright guys, you heard the woman: Tomorrow! State Street! 606 N State Street, Tacoma, WA, 98403. 4pm! Be(er) there.
Until next time. #WatchHerHustleWithPoppyseed