Good Times Brewing, a taproom and restaurant on Maxwell Avenue in Greenwood, is celebrating its grand opening today.
It’s been a year-and-a-half journey, but co-owner Gianpaolo Bonaca is excited about the future of his second business venture in Uptown. He is co-owner with Paul Bartolomeo, and the two have already had plenty of success with The Mill House and a brewery by the same name as the taproom.
Stephen Galloway will provide music by playing the saxophone during the grand opening, and there is weekend Ping Pong tournament planned for the upstairs event space, along with Saturday yoga.
Good Times Brewing will be open from 4-10 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 8 p.m. on Sundays.
The taproom features 15 beers — 13 of which are Good Times creations by brewmaster John Michael McCraney. The menu is simple, with just 12 items, all less than $10. It includes a variety of tacos, sliders and other handheld foods. A customer can place their order at the bar and receive a text message to pick it up when it’s ready.
“I’ve always wanted to do something like tapas, but we wanted to kind of keep it simple,” Bonaca said. “We were sort of approaching it from a taco angle for a little while. We want to incorporate a lot of simple, easy-to-eat bar food. It’s not like your run-of-the-mill bar food. It’s not chicken fingers and hot wings, not that there is anything wrong with that. We’re just trying to provide an alternative to that.”
The space also sets the tone for socializing. People can move around downstairs and even find refuge upstairs in the event space, which doubles as extra room for a retreat from the busy downstairs space.
“The idea is to be a welcoming, open space,” Bonaca said. “The idea is that it’s a mobile space. Upstairs, for example, it’s the venue space, but its primary function is to be like a convertible space. We’ve got Ping Pong tables up there, lounge areas and the balcony, so it’s not necessarily like a set use. It’s kind of designed to be a free space.”
The decor is intentionally rustic. A lot of what you’ll see has been repurposed. Small kegs that are cut in half serve as lighting fixtures. A mill cart serves as a coffee table just inside the front door. There is an old record player, which Bonaca hopes to use for “vinyl nights,” when customers bring in old records to play.
“I feel like it probably represents us,” Bonaca said. “I like this look and feel. I’m not a big fan on things that are too polished. We just wanted it to look like the space that it was.”
Old beer barrel staves were used as guardrails on the handrails that lead to the upstairs event space. Good Times has been open for a few months, and the rentable event space, which includes a balcony, has already been used.
“We had an incredibly trusting family book us for their rehearsal dinner in the winter of last year,” Bonaca said. “We were completely under construction.”
Bonaca wanted Good Times to stay true to the history and atmosphere of Maxwell Avenue.
“We really just wanted it to evolve organically on its own,” he said. “The space decided some of that: the old, industrial look and theme.”
Good Times has been open for about eight weeks, but Bonaca hopes the grand opening will kickstart the business into a successful venture.
Another feature of Good Times is that the entire brewing machinery is visible within the taproom.
“They are conversation pieces, and, also, it is a production facility,” Bonaca said. “Everybody wants to see it. It’s cool.”
Keeping everything simple was intentional.
“You don’t want to overdiversify because you make things complicated for yourself, and nobody knows who you are or what your food identity is,” Bonaca said. “The idea is to keep it simple, but keep it simple with flair. You want to make it interesting.”
Bonaca said he learned one lesson about success from The Mill House.
“The employees are No. 1,” he said. “Obviously, the customer is very important, but, if you take care of the team, they will take care of the customer.”
The Mill House went from grand opening to honeymoon phase to longterm, sustainable growth. Bonaca wants Good Times to have the same experience.
“Obviously, we need a little bit more business to be long-term sustainable,” he said. “It’s been a slow, steady march over there (at The Mill House), and that’s what I’d like to see here.”
As for events, Bonaca is willing to try everything from musical performances to stand-up comedians.
“We’ll put something up, and, if it works, it works,” he said. “If not, we’ll try something else. We’re not dead set on a given path.”