The three guys are Steve Lantz, Rusty Johnson, and Eric Wacks, who are all friends. The defunct spot was known as Creperie Bar. Wacks and Johnson are the culinary team behind Passion BBQ, and Lantz is the force behind Craft Bar & Q. Its grand opening was April 1.
The Craft Bar & Q journey began in February when Lantz walked by the location, which was then shuttered. He noticed there was a bar inside, and the ideas began swirling. Without being too specific, Lantz said he called a friend who "represents beer companies" to get more information. He called back a week later and arranged a meeting with the former owner. Badda-bing, badda-boom, it was his.
If the name Steve Lantz sounds familiar, it might be because you've seen him on TV. Lantz is an actor who has appeared in several shows based in South Florida, including The Glades, Burn Notice, and Magic City. Lantz also lends his services as chaplain to the Florida International University football team.
Lantz developed his keen eye for craft beer from the Filling Station, where he spent many a night slinging frothy pints. Luckily for Lantz, his new place already came with beer taps. Aware of the constant flux of the craft beer market, however, he knew it did not matter how many taps they had as long as he rotated them with the choicest suds he could find. For example, he once had Oskar Blues Gubna Imperial IPA aged in tequila barrels that sold out quickly. Currently, Craft has an Oskar Blues and Ska Brewing collaboration on tap called oSKAr the G'Rauch, a smoked IPA (appropriate pairing for barbecue). This keg is the only one to find its way to South Florida, according to Lantz.
Heck, the bar even carries Sprecher craft soda. The bar's tap list stands at 12 but has plans to expand to 14. Aside from the taps, a fully stocked cooler holds dozens of other brands and varieties, including many from Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery. An additional cooler with a larger selection is also a possibility in the future, Lantz says. In total, Craft Bar & Q has a selection of 40 beers, including Bud Light (because not everyone wants a craft beer, dammit).
On the culinary side of the operation, Passion BBQ started off as a food truck. Lantz talked to Wacks (a chef who studied at the French Culinary Institute) and Johnson about the bar and got them involved. "I didn't think it was going to be enough just to have great beer and then something random coming out of the kitchen," Lantz said. "We talked about doing something together. That's how it went from Craft Bar to Craft Bar & Q. That's what the 'Q' is, for the barbecue."
The name of the bar might not draw a lot of attention at first, but Lantz has a reason. He explains his marketing tactic: "I always liked the idea of going to a strip mall and seeing something called a 'Chinese Restaurant.' But it's never actually called 'Chinese Restaurant,' but you know what you're getting because of the sign. I was thinking, What if we have a place called 'Craft Bar'? Someone would definitely know what they're getting."
A craft beer bar serving Bud Light? Yep. The beer list is meant for all types of patrons, not just the connoisseur, Lantz says.
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"You are never going to satisfy everybody," he explains. "If you say you have a craft bar and you can make everybody happy, you are fooling yourself because there are so many craft beers."