For Bob Rodriquez, owner and brewmaster of Po’Boy Brewery, located at 200 Wilson St., Building E, in Port Jefferson Station, it’s all about making his customers feel like family and keeping them on their toes with the constant variety of beer and cider options.
Rodriquez said he had a dream to open up a brewery of his own for quite some time, first beginning home brewing as a hobby in his garage. As he got better at the craft, he began entering his own creations into competitions and racked up a number of awards along the way.
For the past two years, Rodriquez has amassed a dedicated group of customers.
“It is a life changer, it definitely took over our lives,” he said.
What makes Po’Boy stand out from other breweries is that it releases a new cider weekly and a new beer every two weeks.
“It’s fun for me, I get to create new recipes and people come back to see what’s new,” Rodriquez said.
The owner said everyone, for the most part, finds out about new releases the day of. They send the new menu to a customer email list and share it through social media. Even the bartenders find out the same time the customers do.
Rodriquez enjoys making new creations.
“I wake up — OK, I want to make this,” he said. “Let me see if I have the ingredients, if not I’ll get it and then in the next couple of days I make it. I like to keep it a surprise for everyone.”
Behind the tasting room are three tanks that Rodriquez uses to make his new creations. From there, it goes to the breweries cold room which is the final step before it gets put on tap for customers to enjoy.
“Not to mention the ‘sick’ beers and ciders — you can’t go wrong with that.”
— Bob Rodriguez
While big companies may use a full automated system and more man power, Rodriquez does it all by himself.
“It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of physical labor — you sweat,” he said.
Wesam Hassanin, Rodriquez’s wife and bar manager at the brewery, said most places you go to they’ll have their mainstays, and only once in a while they will add another option.
“We have a lot of regulars, they come in often, so we want to keep it fun for them,” she said. “It’s all [Rodriguez’s] ideas, he’s like a mad scientist,” she said.
While the business has taken off for the couple, as of now they only operate the brewery from Wednesday through Sunday. Both of them have jobs working at Stony Brook Hospital. Rodriguez has been a nurse practitioner for the past 25 years while his wife works as a senior administrator in the surgery department.
“I said I’d go part-time when I hit 25 years and that has made it a little easier — opening up this place was much more difficult to do than getting my doctorate in nursing,” Rodriquez said jokingly.
Since Po’Boy opened in January 2017, the menu has grown from eight to 16 beers and ciders on tap. Last December, they began distributing to local businesses including Prohibition Kitchen among others.
“What I really love about it is the people that come here, the atmosphere and the comradery is really awesome,” Keegan Johnson, a bar regular from Setauket said. “Not to mention the ‘sick’ beers and ciders — you can’t go wrong with that.”
Johnson praised Rodriguez’s craftsmanship.
“I appreciate the craft — you see someone that really enjoys what they are doing,” he said. “You can tell he loves what he does, he loves making people happy.”
Po’Boy has been recognized islandwide as it was one of News 12’s fan-picked winners in its Brewery Battle poll. Regulars come from all over Long Island, and even beyond.
Yolanda Ramos, of Brooklyn, said she and friends make the drive down to Port Jeff just to come to Po’Boy.
“We all walk in strangers and we walk out making so many new friends,” she said. “It’s just a beautiful place.”
Ramos said she started enjoying ciders because of Rodriguez.
“I was never a cider person until I came here,” she said.
Johnson said Rodriquez takes it to another level and dubs him “the chemist.”
“He understands what people like,” he said.
Rodriquez is proud of what he able to cultivate over the past two years.
“This is something they can identify with: This is Port Jeff Station, this is Po’Boy,” he said. “They feel like they are a part of this.”