Story by David A. Bowers
"You never get a second chance to make a first impression."
The Will Rogers quote is nearly 100 years old yet still rings true today. The old west actor, author, political pundit and quote-smith was wise beyond his years and his words still resonate in this old west town looking to move into the next generation.
Downtown Tucson is in the midst of a renaissance. The modern streetcar is rumbling along Congress St. while I sit in a coffee joint sipping on Blue Bottle coffee, the only place where it is available in Arizona. The world-renowned Pizzeria Bianco just opened up across the street and the World of Beer has been offering up its 500 beers, including 50 on tap since Halloween of 2013.
Like any business, there is going to be hiccups, staff turnover and complaints. Unfortunately, for World of Beer in Tucson, it was tragic when they took to social media to "call out" a bad review on Yelp. It was a meltdown on par with Amy & Samy Bouzaglo of Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale of how not to use social media for business. Without rehashing the entire tirade, it is safe to say that World of Beer has learned its lesson, restaffed the place from the top down and has gone back to focusing on what it does best—beer, and lots of it.
The burgeoning craft beer scene is evident in southern Arizona with so many new restaurants, bars, bottle shops and breweries offering the best of the local and hard to find beers. The Tucson bar is the second of three locations in Arizona and the 52nd nationwide, but is one of the first to venture into offering food and spirits.
I have been to the Tempe location on several occasions and had no problem calling and ordering any of the nearby restaurants to deliver food. The problem with a company so specialized in beer is that the kitchen and tavern fare was and still remains to be sub-standard, save for the pretzels.
The World of Beer is making strides to regain its legitimacy within the community to include giving away 10 stainless steel Arizona Craft Brewers Guild growlers (filled with Arizona beer) to celebrate the new growler law. They have partnered with the Tucson Police Officer's Association to present the inaugural Hog Roast & Beer Toast 2014 in August with all proceeds going to Kids and Cops Christmas.
There are great events happening weekly at World of Beer, the old staff is gone, the new management is top notch with former managers, Johnny Ward and Will Phillips from Old Chicago taking charge and whipping the place back into shape just in time for the return of college students.
"We are striving to make service a priority," General manager Ward told me. "We are looking to rise above the hubris and welcome everybody back to World of Beer to see how much we've changed and how un-corporate we really are."
The new WOB welcomes not only college students but also those looking for some of the best and more obscure beers in the state. They also offer an amazing weekday happy hour with $1 off all draught beers from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Weekly specials include 25 percent off select draught beer on Monday night for service industry employees and 25 percent off all bottles on Tuesdays for loyalty card holders. Wednesday is WOB U night offering $2 off select draught beers for students with an ID card from any school and Thursday night is ladies' night with $2 off select draught and wine.
Long gone are the days of catering to the "bro" audience, they have adapted and are reaching out to every demographic. Recently, they hosted the G3 Gay Happy Hour with Gio Taco to rave reviews. Sarah Ritchie, Co-Founder of Tucson Girls' Pint Out has organized a Beer Geek Trivia Night on Wednesday with some special beers from the cellar as well as beer-themed trivia.
I like the new World of Beer, I brought an out-of-town friend there because we heard that they had his "White Whale" beer, the Dogfish Head 120 minute IPA. We were greeted quickly, served immediately and even purchased some beer to-go. Great beer selection, quick and friendly service from knowledgeable servers and a fun atmosphere.
But don't just take this humble writers' opinion, Tucson Elite Yelper, Chloe O. who has been around Tucson for a while had this to say about World of Beer last month:
“I don't know why all my friends have been telling me this place is "sooooo horrible. I liked pretty much everything about this place: the atmosphere, selection of beer and food, the music that was playing, the friendly bartender, and the location. I also liked that the crowed was so eclectic. There were college kids, young married couples (my husband and me), older folks, and everyone in between! There was a good crowd, but still plenty of places to sit (my husband says that on weekends it can get so crowded, you can't find a seat). Overall, this is a fun, casual, and lively place to grab a beer or ten.”
Another Tucson Elite Yelper, Natasha C. also had high praise for the new World of Beer...posted last month:
“We had somewhat of an eclectic crowd and everyone in our party of 8 was happy! We had an amazing waitress, she was attentive, sweet, and had the funniest stories! Thursday is karaoke night and that is always fun with friends. They serve food late and their beer selection is amazing! Thank you WOB, we came to have a good time with friends and celebrate and we did exactly that with no complaints!”
After a bumpy start, the new World of Beer has come into its' own and the great Will Rogers said it best, "Rumor travels faster, but it don't stay put as long as the truth."