Around Town with Jeremy Danner
Jeremy Danner has been with Boulevard Brewing Company for over 11 years, starting as a brewer and making his way to the marketing department as an Ambassador Brewer. If you know Danner, you know that he loves his wife (Randyl), his son (Small Roommate), pitbulls, beer, and the Royals. In fact, it says all of this in his Twitter bio where he holds a decent following of over 14,000 people. I sat down with Danner recently at his two favorite restaurants around town, Grunauer and Chelly’s Cafe, to talk about his work, his life, and his path to becoming an influencer.
Pritchett: Why did you choose Grunaeur and Chelly's as your favorite restaurants in Kansas City?
Danner: Chelly's was my first choice. We're here all the time. We try to eat here once a week, it's like family for us. This is the place that I choose as my first meal when I get back from traveling somewhere.
P: I'm going to let you finish your food at some point but tell me about why you like Grunauer.
D: Grunaeur is the place we like to go for special occasions. It's always a fun experience to go there. We've always had such great service there and the dining room is so beautiful. The food is amazing every time we go.
P: Do you consider yourself a foodie?
D: I don't think I'm a foodie. I know things about food and I like to eat but in the same way that I wouldn't say I'm a beer snob.
P: Where do you think your appreciation for food started?
D: I don't know because growing up, we ate middle-class midwestern food. We had mom tacos, meatloaf, spaghetti. I would have to credit Randyl for my appreciation. Randyl was a restaurant manager when we started dating so we could go out and eat at restaurants her friends worked at. I realized food was more than just something to sustain me. It can be this experience. It's not just a utility thing.
P: You may not be a foodie but I think you’re still an influencer.
D: It's funny because I don't want to be an influencer but I want to know why I'm not. I should tweet that out, give me reasons why I'm not an influencer. I don't want to go to things but I want to know why I'm not invited.
P: Do you think that's because you're so open on social media?
D: I just never lie. I'm always very honest about things, even in person. I think people have always felt comfortable telling me whatever. I micro-read people very quickly and I'll say crazy shit to them to break the ice.
P: I think it's the gutless trait that people admire.
D: And I get the negativity and the weird stuff but for the most part, I don't reply to the weird stuff. I wrote myself a set of personal guidelines a few years ago and one of the items is "Let the haters hate." Because I've never had an instance where someone says something horrible to me and then I explain myself and they go, "oh my gosh, you're so right, thank you so much."
P: What other personal guidelines do you have for social media?
D: Celebrate the things you love. Because that's easier and it's free. People spend so much time trying to demonstrate that they know something by talking shit on other things. Like, tell me what you really like. That tells me more about you. Oh, there's a personal guideline where I pretend John McDonald (founder of Boulevard Brewing Co.) is riding on my shoulder. I'm reading verbatim: If I drink too much, I'll drop him. If I say something ridiculous, he'll hear it. If I wouldn't say it in front of John, I won't tweet it. I have a list of things I don't tweet about either.
P: Like the kids in a brewery topic?
D: That should probably go on there. My list starts with boilers. One time I tweeted about the Boulevard boiler and a bunch of people told me what they thought we were doing wrong. Can't tweet about forklifts.
P: This is not where I saw this list going.
D: It's funny what upsets people. Glitter beer is also on the list. Hot dog buns. And centrifuges.
P: How did you get into brewing?
D: I turned 21 and started bartending and that's when I kind of fell in love with beer. I was like, "Oh, beer has flavor, depth, and aroma." So I started drinking all of the craft beer I could get my hands on at that time.
P: Did you have any experience with beer before this?
D: No, I had no idea. I had a buddy who was a brewer at a brew-pub and he told me to come by on my 21st birthday for lunch and beers. I remember walking in with a couple of friends and seeing my buddy climb out of the kettle. And I'm like "Oh shit, people make beer." That's when it hit me and I became obsessed. Before that moment, I thought beer came from a factory or from a store. That moment made me want to become a brewer. I can still see that moment of him climbing out of the kettle.
P: So then what sort of prerequisites are there for being a brewer?
D: Well, I thought, "I would love to do this but there's no chance." There are people who go to brewing school, people who have degrees. You don't just get a job at Boulevard. In those days, I compared it to deciding at age 20 that you’re going to be a major league baseball player. No, you're not. There's a progression that gets you there and that's how I felt with beer. So I decided I wanted to be a "serious" bartender and get more into that world. I worked a few bartending jobs before going to 75th St. Brewery in November 2005. I started brewing there in June 2006.
[This is the portion of the interview where we found out ten of Danner's former workplaces are now closed. This is nothing but a very fun fact.]
P: Were you good at retail?
D: I was good enough. I was a salesperson at The Gap and in those days, I was as tall as I am now but probably 100 pounds less. I was the same height as everyone's grandson so old ladies would have me put on fleece vests for them to see if it would look good on their grandson. Have you ever worked retail?
P: I worked for almost four years, three of those at PacSun.
D: That's an excellent retail store to work at. You're like the coolest person in the world. The only thing cooler would be if you worked at Sunglass Hut.
P: Oh god, no. Retail is a weird beast.
D: It is, it's fun but unlike the service industry, there's no incentive to be nicer to people. But in service, you can make more money if people like you more. Did you wait tables ever?
P: I didn't but I think everyone should work in the food industry. I feel I get a pass because I worked retail but I think everyone should have a job that deals with people in that way. I think people should understand the place of a server or a cashier.
D: I've been fired from bartending jobs and I regret that but it was humbling and it gives you perspective. When you're waiting on someone and they treat you like shit, it really doesn't matter. When they leave, they're gone and it doesn't matter what they think but you forget that. Like, customers can be super nice or super awful but the $5 they give me is going to spend the same either way. I mean, you shouldn't be rude to service people anyway and when it does happen, I will call my buddies out on it. I won't take them back to places if they were rude to our waiter.
P: There is that saying that goes "You can learn a lot about someone the way they treat people who can do nothing for them."
D: I think that's even more interesting. There was a guy doing door to door sales in our neighborhood and I couldn't do that job, that's tough.
P: Do you think you could be on reality TV?
D: No, not at all.
P: If you had to be on reality TV, would you do a competition show or more of the "Real Housewives" vein?
D: I feel like I would want to be on the non-competition ones. Because those shows are designed to bring out the worst in people. But I mean, I tweeted the other day about something Pat Mullin and I talked about since we sit next to each other. And someone responded with, "I would love to sit next to you guys and hear your conversations" and I mean, it's not that interesting. We have one or two funny things and that's it. Reality TV would be tough.
P: And those shows end up being so heavily edited because of that. And you can always tell when they've clipped it together to make it more interesting.
D: Yeah, I couldn't do that but I would choose non-competition shows if I had to. Real Housewives would be fun.
P: You would be a Real Housewife?
D: Yeah, of course. There were housewives that were like, really hot but they seemed cool.
P: Hot, but cool. That's what being a real housewife is. No, that's what being an influencer is. That's why you want to be an influencer.
D: And the free ice cream.