By ALLEY COWGILL
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
The first touch of the searing south Texas heat to your delicate skin can be soothed by the crisp taste of locally brewed Padre Island Blonde Ale at Padre Island Brewing Company. The Island famous Blonde Ale is paired perfectly with their delectable, homemade freshly baked pizza.
The Padre Island Brewing Company celebrated their 20th anniversary this year. Brewmaster Mark Haggenmiller reminisces about the good ol’ days, saying, “Micro-breweries and brewpubs were a trend sweeping the nation in the early 90’s. Several different laws were passed in 1994 that opened the gates. The Island seemed like a good place for a brewing company. There might be 10 restaurants that were open back then that are still around.”
Today, the Padre Island Brewing Company is the second oldest brew pub in Texas. Haggenmiller contributes the success of the brewing company to, “great staff, consistent product, community support and loyal customers.”
The Padre Island Brewing Company lays its foundation on the principal of hospitality. Haggenmiller emphasizes his business philosophy, “Just follow the golden rule. It’s the best part of what hospitality is,” he said. “And do it with a smile on your face!”
It’s not all sunshine and fairytales, though, as Haggenmiller described the difficulties of being a business owner on the Island, “The seasonality of business makes surviving on the Island extremely difficult. However once you’ve built a solid base of customers it is possible to survive.”
Haggenmiller recollects the devastating collapse of the Queen Isabella Causeway, “When the bridge was out in 2001, it was probably one of the most difficult times we have experienced. Another fellow restaurant owner and myself were instrumental in getting propane and trash trucks to the Island and other restaurants on an old Army landing craft. Finally we were able to get food trucks over. It was amazing to see everyone come together for the greater good of the Island.”
Everyone has different expectations when dining out. Some want extra ice, some want light ice, some want each plate brought out when they are ready, and some prefer it all out together. For those in the service industry the possibility of dealing with a difficult customer is not a foreign one. Haggenmiller explains the best way to deal with more challenging customers, “with a smile! It’s important to keep in mind that the customer is always right.”
Padre Island Brewing Company is keeping the energy flowing as it plans to sell its local brew on a larger level. “Right now we do growlers — packaged beer in a 1/2 gallon jug and sell it at the door. We are looking at logistics and packaging to sell at a larger level.”
Padre Island Brewing Company shares its success with the community by giving back to Sea Turtle Inc., Walk for Women and various arts on the Island to name a few. “We give back to any and all local charities and groups that come to us for support. It’s important to support locally and give where you can.”
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