Couple Has Crafted a Unique Beer Business Model

Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow founded Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont in 2010, and today, at any given time, its 1,500 square feet of retail space are filled with more than 1,000 beers from 350 breweries. Beers are organized by region, from Worcester to the West Coast, with an emphasis on local brews. Employees have jobs like Head Beer Geek, Ambassador of Fine Ales and Lagers, and Hoptologist and wear hooded sweat shirts emblazoned with the words “Beer Geek.”

“People take two steps in the door and they don’t know how to proceed,” says Brian Shaw, who opened a Craft Beer Cellar in Newton Centre recently, joining franchises in Winchester, Westford, and Braintree. “People say, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t know there was this much beer.’ ”

Is there ever. And now Baker and Schalow are betting their model can work elsewhere as they expand to New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as Florida, St. Louis, and maybe Seattle. Their goal is to make people think about whether to buy a Pretty Things Jack D’Or or a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale as carefully as they would wrestle between a cabernet or a merlot.

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