Today I got back from lunch and found a glass from the Oregon Garden Brew Fest on my desk. In the glass was a napkin with a note on it that said, “Eric, For your Instagram Thanks for the support! Dino.”
Dino Venti is the owner of Venti’s Cafe + Basement Bar and Venti’s Cafe + Taphouse. He’s also the uncle of one of my best friends, Conrad Venti. Actually, I first met Conrad because I ate at Venti’s for lunch all the time and Conrad was almost always there. Eventually, after seeing someone every day, you kinda have to start at least saying hi to them. Unless you’re a jerk. And thankfully, Conrad’s not a jerk, so he started saying hi. (And yes, I am implying that I am a jerk. But not on purpose. I’m just not very outgoing, so I’m sure I seem like a jerk half the time. Maybe most of the time. But I don’t mean to be. For reals. Anyway…) So, Conrad and I started saying hello when we saw each other at Venti’s, eventually realized that we went to the same church (yeah, it was so big that we didn’t already know that. don’t get me started.) and the rest is bromance history. And now we work together too. Our wives laugh at our bromanceness. A lot. But anyway, that was a complete tangent, none of which was the point of this.
The point is this: I started eating at the original Venti’s Bento, as it was called then, in the Reed Opera House, when it first opened and I was in high school. Venti’s grew up, and started serving beer. I grew up, and started drinking beer. (It’s entirely possible that Venti’s always served beer, and I just didn’t realize that at the time.) Eventually, Venti’s moved across the street and added the Basement Bar, and more taps of rotating craft beer. Then, the Taphouse opened, with more room and even more taps of rotating craft beer. All the while, Conrad and I got to be better friends, and I got to know Dino better too. And I got to know how much Dino loves Salem, and how much he wants to see Salem grow and be the awesome city that it could be. From bike/running trails to bridges to community fundraisers to live music and on and on, the man has a vision for what Salem could be. And it’s a great vision. And if you look in the right places, you can see it happening. It’s happening slowly, but it’s happening, and nothing around here happens very fast anyway. And Dino Venti is one of the people who has helped move things in the right direction.
Dino left the glass on my desk to thank me for my support. I don’t deserve any thanks. I’m just a guy who likes to drink beer and take pictures of it. Dino deserves the thanks for supporting the local business community in Salem and for believing in Salem, and what Salem could become, when a lot of people (most people?) don’t. So Dino, cheers brother! Thanks for the glass, and thanks for helping to make Salem great. Or at least headed in that direction. It’s my pleasure to support you.
Speaking of Instagram, here’s a shot of the glass and the logos on each side. It’s a pretty awesome glass. So, naturally, I had to go home and have a beer in it.
The first craft beer that Venti’s ever served on tap was Arrogant Bastard by Stone Brewing Co. [Funny side note, for the longest time there was a picture of Conrad's face in the middle of the Arrogant Bastard logo on the tap list at the original Venti's. A couple of the employees had cut it out of his business card and taped it in place of the Stone gargoyle. Conrad's not arrogant. At all. But it was still funny. Really funny.] Anyway, Arrogant Bastard was one of the first beers that I ever drank at Venti’s, so it seemed fitting that the first beer I drank in the new glass was the big boy version of Arrogant Bastard, the Oaked Arrogant Bastard (aged with oak wood chips). Delicious.
So yeah, it pays to drink local, but not because you sometimes get free stuff. Ok, partially because you sometimes get free stuff. But mostly because, by drinking local, you get to know local people. And sometimes, those local people turn out to love your community just as much as you do.