Shorewood — Nat Davauer has a vision for a different type of beer experience in Shorewood.
It's not easy to explain, but it combines the convenience of a liquor store, the knowledge of a bartender and an aesthetic that melds a turn-of-the-century industrial workshop with Victorian-era furniture.
"Think of a café," the Shorewood man said. "We'll have everything you'd see in a café — but instead of coffee it's beer."
Davauer, who owns the building at 4417 N. Oakland Ave., is raising funds to convert Joe's North Shore Barbershop into a beer café known as Craft and Vessel. With seating for up to 15 people, Davauer is placing a unique emphasis on carryout growlers — which are essentially half-gallon jugs designed to maintain the freshness of tap beer.
But these aren't your father's growlers. Davauer said the traditional brown glass containers have evolved in recent years into stainless steel, vacuum-sealed containers that can keep beer cold and fresh for longer periods at a time.
Customers will be able to buy reusable growlers at Craft and Vessel if they don't have one of their own.
"These new growlers are delivering a fresh-from-the-tap experience, with the advantage that you can take it anywhere, like the beach or a dinner party," he said.
A new level
An alumni of UW-Madison's art program, Davauer said he's also willing to create custom ceramic growlers for those who value creativity over portability.
"I want to take the whole beer experience and elevate it to a more subtle experience," he said. "The container itself can be part of that experience by being a handcrafted beautiful object."
Craft and Vessel will have a diverse portfolio of craft beers, Davauer said, with 16 on tap and about 30 brands in bottles.
He is also working with local producers of craft soda and kombucha — fermented tea — which could also be served in growlers.
Pairing foods with drink
Davauer hopes to offer tasting events featuring local brewers, distributors and food producers. He also plans to have a small food menu, to pair meats and cheeses with different beers.
Craft and Vessel also has a unique funding approach. Davauer has launched an online crowd-funding campaign through Kickstarter, which has nearly reached its $7,000 goal with the support of 81 people. Davauer is also pursuing more traditional financing options, but said the Kickstarter campaign is an effective way of evaluating the popularity of his concept.
"If I were to run a Kickstarter campaign with only three backers, I would probably have to rethink my concept," he said.
End of a barbershop
While Davauer prepares for renovations, 77-year-old Joe D'Acquisto is getting ready to say goodbye to his business at Joe's North Shore Barbershop after 22 years.
Prior to moving here in 1970, D'Acquisto lived in Sicily, where he started cutting hair at the age of 14.
He said he plans to retire once he hands over the keys to Davauer on June 1.
Once D'Acquisto moves out, Davauer said he plans to make renovations within a month's time and open Craft and Vessel by July 1.