Mike Schwartz is affectionately referred to as the “Godfather of Craft Beer” in the Dayton area — and for good reason.
The 64-year-old owner of Belmont Party Supply in Dayton and, more recently, founder of Ollie’s Place in Washington Twp., has served as this region’s chief craft-beer evangelist since he bought BPS in 1984. He hosts a monthly beer-tasting event at the Trolley Stop pub in Dayton’s Oregon District, and last month was his 100th tasting.
That’s a lot of beer knowledge imparted, and beer consumed, by local beer enthusiasts over more than eight years.
And next Friday, Feb. 3, Ollie’s Place will host “A Very Schwartzian Barleywine Birthday Bash” to celebrate the founder’s most recent revolution around the sun with four versions of one of his favorite brews, JW Lee’s Harvest Ale.
We caught up with our Daytonian of the Week to find out how he became “The Godfather.”
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What’s your guilty pleasure?
Cooking and brewing.
What’s one word you think people would use to describe you?
Why did you decide to stay in and settle in the Dayton area?
I was born and raised in Dayton. I would never leave Dayton. If Dayton does not have it, it will be close by.
How did you get involved with owning and running a craft-beer shop?
Back in the very early 80’s, I was an electrician and was diagnosed with a high-grade lymphatic cancer. I went through a round of chemotherapy. The doctor classified me as disabled for life, but I refused to accept it. One day while I was taking chemo treatments, I noticed an ad about a carry-out in Belmont that was for sale. I took a look at it, and we bought it in 1984. It was 33 years on Jan. 24.
We began to pick up classic imported beers such as Old Peculiar and other English ales. The business took off, and we were positioned correctly when the American Craft Beer Industry took off.
Have you contemplated launching a brewery?
Yes, but state statutes limit my possibilities.
What inspires you about Dayton?
Dayton has everything it takes to be a great city. If you have ever been to The Engineer’s Club you’ll see why. Our rich history of inventors is amazing. We have a wonderful water supply and we are close to almost anything that is needed. The wonderful ethnic culture that Dayton nurtures builds a strong city base. I love Dayton — Go Flyers!
If you could change or bring one thing to Dayton, what would it be?
I truly believe the downward spin of home ownership is a central problem. If housing was more affordable to obtain then more folks would take ownership of their neighborhoods. I would give renters an incentive to purchase.
What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?
If we do not fix the drug problem, we are not going anywhere. Drugs account for most of the related crime in the city. With great leadership we should do fine. We have many open buildings that we need to pressure owners to fill them or tear them down. Let’s make Dayton great!
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