Roskop shares an unlikely story about following one’s passion, and investing in local brewery relations. Incredible true stories, such as these, show the value of creating honest and valuable relations.
This story begins in 2013 while Roskop is pursuing his degree in sign language. He and his friends create a band, called “Stereo Radio“, and play locally in Knoxville, TN. Stereo Radio performs so well that they were unexpectedly offered a record deal, and first album contract. Roskop and his family, spoke about the pros and cons of this path.
He’s faced with two paths: Sign a record deal and go on tour, or complete your bachelor’s in sign language. The former was Roskop’s decision. His conclusion was that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. One can always go back to school, but not everyone can follow this dream. Stereo Radio toured in Poland and charted well in the country. After a great year, the band came to an unfortunate end, they split up over hard differences.
Because of this separation, another crossroad enters the life of Roskop’s: “Should I go back to school? Should I start an actual career? Get a real job? Stay in music?” He did not have the answers just yet, but soon he would.
In 2014, Roskop took a trip to Asheville, NC. During his visit, he took a tour of the local breweries. After the tour was over, Roskop had two huge realizations.
The first being a brewery company would help him professionally explore the three things he loved most: Beer, People, and Knoxville. Roskop had been very involved in the Knoxville brewery community for quite some time already. He worked and helped out however he could support the community he fell in love with.
The second realization was he knew he could do it better. He chatted with four breweries local to Knoxville and convinced three of them that it would be valuable to their business to allow tours. Those four were Blackhorse Pub & Brewery, Smokey Mountain Brewery, Downtown Grill & Brewery, and Saw Works Brewing Company (Closed). Also, with an ear to local breweries, two prominent brewery companies signed leases in the area; meaning more real financial agreements coming to Knoxville, TN. That is when he decided he was not going back to school, and began efforts to start his tour service-Knox Brew Tours.
Roskop bought a bus off Craigslist and renovated the inside, and took a six-week course on how to build a website to promote his business. Business in the beginning was slow, but ramped up over four quarters. In the span of two years, Roskop went from part-time on weekends, to full-time employment and was in need of more full-time employees.
Knox Brew Tours grew tremendously. Gaining more breweries to tour and two more buses, but all came to a halt when Covid-19 struck many of his partnering businesses in 2020. All in-person activities were effectively banned. Turning challenges into opportunities, Roskop took his company into a mobile-celebration bus for hire, hoping Covid-19 wouldn’t last too long. One of his memorable hires was a wife celebrating her husband putting on a pair of pants for the first time in two weeks (Well-deserved, really).
Surviving Covid-19, a friend of Roskop and owner of the Casual Pint, asked if he was interested in their space downtown as it didn’t match their image. Roskop, in need of a more permanent space and income opportunities, looked into the opportunity. They bought all the “stuff” already in the store for a deal, acquired a generous lease agreement from the landlord, and received capital from First Century Bank to begin his business within 12 days.
Roskop admitted that opening a business at the end of Covid-19 was challenging, but again he turned it into an opportunity. With personable relations and providing great customer service to all entering, the Knox Brew Hub created a loyal base. With slower business, you create more meaningful relations. As this story is told to the PRSA Volunteer Chapter, many customers were acknowledged by staff and Roskop himself. From day one, they have followed the three colorful dots in their logo.
Knox – Their Love for Knoxville
Brew – Their Love for Beer
Hub – Their Love for People
“If we aren’t accomplishing those 3 dots, then we don’t do it. The Knox Brew Hub is the only brewery where we encourage you to drink at other breweries. We just want to be your first stop to point you in the right direction, and so far it’s working.”
– Zack Roskop