Gabe Schmitz and his wife, Tina Yeung, recently became owners of 3 Keys Brewing & Eatery and have big plans for the business.
Among those changes, they would like to add a large dining room on the east end of the building at 2505 Manatee Ave. E. and a beer garden out back.
In the near term, they envision distributing some of the beer they produce in their brewhouse from about 200 recipes.
Also under consideration: Opening other 3 Keys Brewing & Eateries elsewhere in the state.
The new owners found a lot to like about 3 Keys, including the brewmaster Nick Pensivy, the 8,000 square feet of space and the eatery’s friendly ambience. Schmitz likens it to Starbucks, where coffee offers customers a good excuse to gather and hang out.
Schmitz wants guests to come for the craft beers and the “pub grub,” handmade thin crust pizza, burgers and specialty sandwiches such as waffle chicken or waffle pulled pork.
Locally produced organic beef is used in the burgers, and spent grain used in the brewing process goes to the ranch to feed those cattle.
Tweaks to the menu are planned, including adding fryers so that the kitchen can produce fries and chicken wings.
From the tap, 3 Keys offers more than 20 types of beers daily in 16-ounce pints, 5-ounce tasters, 32-ounce growlers and 64-ounce growlers.
Titles that are uniquely creative in the beer universe include SOB IPA, Guava Milkshake IPA, Low Rise Cheeky, Knackered ESB, Nana’s Bananas and scores more.
Business at 3 Keys is split about 50-50 between beer and food, Schmitz said.
“Right now, one of my biggest concerns is that we don’t offer table service. Guests have to come to the counter to order. Starting in September we will add a front-of-the-counter team to check to see if guests need anything,” Schmitz said.
The eatery won’t have a wait staff — the new owners believe that works against the invitation for guests to linger and relax. But there will be more guest interaction between patrons and staff.
A portion of the walls inside 3 Keys is given over to the “mug club,” where guests have their own mugs. With some of the planned expansion, 3 Keys will be able to expand its membership in the mug club. There is a waiting list of about 100.
Among the regulars at 3 Keys recently were Jeffrey Bauer and Carlos Debonis.
“We are addicted. The service is great and the creativity out of the brewery is great. They keep raising the bar,” Bauer said.
An active calendar of events, including live music, bar bingo, music trivia and more can be found on the 3 Keys website, 3keysbrewing.com.
The new owners bought the business from Jeff and Cathy Douglas, who opened 3 Keys in 2016.
The business is open from noon-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday and from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
For more information, call 941-218-0396, or visit 3keysbrewing.com.