2 friends who love beer equals Oly Taproom

Two friends who both love beer have opened Oly Taproom in downtown Olympia, a business that allows you to enjoy a pint at the bar or buy a bottle of beer to go.

The friends are Levi Hendricks, 32, and Sanrica Marquez, 39, both of whom met when they worked at the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office. And they both discovered they had an interest in beer and trying new beers. When one of them would go on vacation, the vacationer would come back to work with a newly discovered beer.

“It was a love of beer that grew as our friendship grew,” Hendricks said.

And then they took it one step further, turning a hobby into a dream, Marquez said.

They began work on their downtown location — the site of a former massage business that relocated — in October, eventually transforming 2,800 square feet, with seating upstairs and downstairs, into a business that sells craft beers on tap, as well as a wide selection of beers by the bottle, both craft and imports.

They offer 14 craft beers and cider on tap that are produced locally, regionally and on the West Coast. They also are regularly rotated. The business doesn’t sell any major brand beer except for Olympia and Rainier beer, which are sold to honor the history of beer brewed in the Northwest, the owners said.

The business also only sells snacks, so if you want a meal, you’re welcome to bring your own food or order something to be delivered from a nearby restaurant. Oly Taproom has developed a take-out menu with Budd Bay Cafe, which is just down the street.

The owners have funded this venture themselves, although they produced a well-honed, 26-page business plan that won praise from those they showed it to, except it didn’t attract any financing.

“We put it all on the line,” Hendricks said about their own financing efforts.

They did their research, including reaching out to similar bottle shops for advice. They heard from Patrick McEvoy, owner of Elizabeth Station, a 3-year-old bottle shop and taproom in Bellingham.

McEvoy praised Hendricks and Marquez because they were “willing to face the facts” — to understand them, think about them, comprehend them and synthesize them, he said. “They took the facts of running a business pretty seriously,” McEvoy said.

“I’m impressed with their partnership and friendship,” he added.

Once a month Oly Taproom has a brewers night, highlighting and serving a craft beer. Up next is No-Li beer of Spokane, which is set to have its brewers night April 16.