Meet the duo whose love for craft beer brought them to popular downtown beer bar

If you’re a beer enthusiast in the Dayton area, you probably already know these two — and if not, you will soon.

Gus Stathes, former general manager and beer curator of Ollie's Place in Washington Twp., and Sara Levin, former social media manager and event planner for Cappy's Wine & Spirits in Loveland, together bought The Barrel House at 417 E. Third St. in downtown Dayton in late 2017.

“This is something we’ve been wanting to do for quite a while,” Stathes told us at the time. “We’ve been looking for locations, we talked about it, and we decided to do it.”

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The pair were honored as Daytonians of the Week during March 21 to the 28th.

Let’s let Gus and Sara pick up the story from there, and give us a glimpse into what makes them tick:

How did the two of you end up in your current gigs as co-owners of the Barrel House?

G: Sara and I were actively looking for spots downtown to do something with — a bar and bottle shop. We were thinking maybe two to three years down the road. At one point, she had shared an available property on my Facebook timeline — I don’t remember which one. Jeff Heater, the founder and former owner of The Barrel House, saw the interaction and approached me the next time I stopped in for a pint. He explained that he was looking to move on, and asked if we were interested. A handshake and some signatures later — here we are!”

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S: “I was working at Cappy’s in Loveland for about three years, doing the social media, events, and some of the beer buying, and Gus and I would fantasize together about running our own place. We had all these ideas about how we would do it and where it would be. So we started looking at properties somewhat actively in downtown Dayton, when Jeff approached Gus about us buying it. The rest is history.”

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What’s your favorite spot in the Dayton area?

G: My extremely uncomfortable “pillow” made out of a stack of awful records and an Indianapolis Colts foam hand. Needle on an album, beer in a glass, and the volume turned up irresponsibly loud.

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S: My bed. Just kidding (but also not), but I guess outside of my bed I would say Warped Wing. Everyone who works there is like family, and has been since before I even moved to Dayton. In addition to that, it’s where Gus and I met, so it’s kind of my happy place.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

G: Katy Perry. She’s my firework.

S: Trashy reality shows. I can’t help it. I’m addicted. The Bachelor/Bachelorette is my favorite.

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Why did you decide to stay in and settle in the Dayton area?

G: Because I love this city. Beyond its obvious rich history — there’s just so much creativity and potential here. We have amazing artists — visual, music, liquid, or otherwise. The sense of community is heartwarming, and something that I don’t think I can ever get tired of. Especially in the beer “scene.” Our craft beer community — folks in the industry and people that just love good beer — are inspiringly passionate and supportive of each other. Yes, all of us in the industry are technically competing with each other, but it’s really a case of “the rising tide raises all the ships.” We all support each other, bounce ideas off each other, and work together. I’m beyond honored to be a part of this community.

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S: I spent the last nine years living in Loveland, and grew up in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. I’ve loved Dayton since the very first time I ever visited. Gus living in Dayton didn’t hurt either. I feel more at home in Dayton than I ever have anywhere and even though it’s not where I’m from, I’m proud to call Dayton home.

What’s been your most recent professional challenge, and how did you push through the challenge?

G: Balancing work/home life/sleep has been the biggest challenge for me. I’m slowly finding my balance. Luckily, we’ve got a killer crew that we can trust to take care of the shop. They’re far and away our greatest asset, and we can’t be happier with the team we’ve got.

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S: Sexism. Unfortunately. I hate to say it, but it’s rampant in the beer industry. I know I’m not the first woman to say it, nor will I be the last. I push through it by speaking openly and candidly about it, by trying to remain professional and diplomatic. I push through it by always trying to change people’s minds about what women can be in this industry. It’s something I will continue to push through every single day.

What inspires you about the Dayton area?

G: Again — the people in this city. Our community, passion, pride, and humor. A lot of people love this place — and a lot of people also realize that it’s not the most glorious place on earth. We’ve got our faults, but we own it and move forward.

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S: So many things. But if I have to narrow it down to one thing, I have to say the people. I have some of the most amazing friends here. People here have good energy, they’re loyal to their city and their people, but always welcome new people. We have the most amazing customers too, in the short time we’ve been running The Barrel House everyone has embraced us and made our hearts so full.

What do you think Dayton will look like in 10-15 years?

G: I think we’re on an amazing upswing that ain’t slowing down any time soon. This city has so much promise and potential that’s becoming more and more realized.

S: Beautiful, obviously. There is so much growth happening downtown right now I see nothing but success and progress.

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