Chris McKim is stepping away from the day-to-day operation of The Brew Kettle production brewery, just months after partnering with an investment group. In a telephone interview today (July 24), he said will remain a partner but he’s turning over the brewing reins to longtime head brewer Jack Kephart.
“We’re going to start on the next chapter of our lives,” McKim said, referring to he and his wife Pam. “We’re going to be dealing with some rental properties and starting onto new things.”
“I guess if you don’t need to, why do it?” he added. He made the comments from the Florida Keys, where he spent last night trying to catch lobsters.
The McKims founded the popular brew-on-premise and restaurant in 1995 in Strongsville, and later opened a nearby production brewery. In March, the McKims announced that they had partnered with an investment group that wanted to open other locations.
At the time, McKim said he was excited about turning the restaurant over to his partners and focusing on the production brewery, which makes such brands as White Rajah, Red Eye PA and Old 21.
His last day in the office will be Aug. 29.
“It’s going to be very different,” McKim said. “It’s going to be strange. Frankly, just to have partners was very strange. I spent the last 18 years making each and every decision on my own or enabling staff members. I was very much not a micro manager. … It’s just a little bit more challenging for me personally to need to discuss why we want to do things the way we do them. I would just think about it and that’s what we did. Now it’s always three guys making the decision. There’s a lot more ‘but whys’ and it seems like I spent more time on that kind of stuff. I’m still a partner in it. I just won’t be there day to day.”
Asked whether there was a rift between himself and the new partners, he said no. He identified them as Chris Russo and Rodney Davis. “We’re happy and I think they are good guys and they have a good handle on things,” he said.
The brewing team assembled under Kephart also is capable of handling the brewing operation, he said. The brewery, which has a 20-barrel brewing system, is in the process of getting new fermenters that will push annual capacity to about 10,000 barrels.
McKim added that he still planned to help out, even going into the brewery once a week. He also noted that he’ll be traveling to Yakima, Wash., to check on hops for the brewery.
“I don’t want the phone call about the toilet plugged,” he said, laughing. “They can handle that. I’ve heard that enough times over 18 years. … I’m sticking with the high-profile fun shit.”