10 December, 2019, 22:45

Meet Hop Street Lounge, east Tucson’s new beer, wine & bottle shop

A comfortable space with a wealth of beverage options in an underserved area of town.

While, being in your early twenties and maintaining a stable job is admirable, being in your early twenties and owning your own business is something else entirely.

Twenty-four year old Damion Jenkins is the owner of Hop Street Lounge, a new taproom and bottle shop that opened March 16 of this year on Tucson’s eastside. Jenkins noticed the area was underserved with regards to craft beer options and decided to do something about it.

And after being open for just a few months with business much stronger than he expected, it’s looking like a wise decision.

Interior at Hop Street Lounge (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Interior at Hop Street Lounge (Credit: Jackie Tran)

“I expected it to be a slow start with people trickling in here and there.” he said.  “But it seems to have caught on really fast. People are interested to see what we have going on over here. This is something different.”

A Plethora to Pour

Hop Street Lounge’s rotating taps feature 34 beers, a cider, four white wines, four red wines, three hard kombuchas, and a local coffee on nitro. An eight-door refrigerator stays stocked with bottles of wine and mead, seltzers, cold-brew coffees and 700 different selections of canned beer. On top of that, an eight-tap cooler is in the works of being added to the bar strictly for tap takeovers. Wine and mead flights will soon be available, too. It’s safe to say there’s no shortage of options.

The front space opens up to warmly-lit seating that’s capable of hosting a variety of experiences. There’s lounge chairs, booth seating, and intimate dinner tables as well as high-top tables and bar seating. All of this allows Hop Street Lounge to do what it was designed to do: cater to a range of people. This includes someone coming in for a quick beer, a sports fan watching one of the massive flat-screens, small and large groups, and those simply wanting a fun, memorable night out.

While the lounge can currently accommodate many types of private events, Jenkins hopes to obtain the vacant space next door, which would double their current 2,000 square foot footprint. The additional space would also allow for another eight-doors of refrigerators, bringing Hop Street Lounge bottle offerings to nearly 1,500.

While these days the majority of food and beverage attention is focused on downtown and Fourth Avenue, Jenkins feels that if he can, “keep people coming to the Eastside of town to visit Hop Street Lounge, it will help the other bars in the area as well.”

Beer bottles & Business

Jenkins is a native Tucsonan and knew he wanted to build a business in the city in which he grew up.

“I love Tucson,” he said. “It’s the perfect sized city: not too big and not too small. The whole city is very kicked back and relaxed. I don’t want to go anywhere else.”

Damion Jenkins at Hop Street Lounge (Credit: Jackie Tran)

Although Jenkins is a new business owner, he feels less pressure now than he did before they opened. Seeing how things have transpired in the lounge has given him confidence in the products they make available and the all-inclusive environment the lounge radiates.

“Before we opened,” Jenkins said, “I had nothing to work with. I just did what I thought I was supposed to do and waited to see if it would work. Now, I can see what’s working and what people think I should do and that keeps me moving forward every day.”

For young people out there looking to start a business, Jenkins has some advice.

“Just go for it. I don’t think that anyone has a full idea of what they’re doing until it happens. As long as you prepare yourself as best you can, there’s not much to lose, especially when you’re young. Now’s the time to make mistakes and figure out what you need to do.”

Lastly, if you go hungry, Hop Street Lounge works with local food trucks like Fat Noodle, BurgerRito, American Flying Buffalo and Pops Hot Chicken.

Hop Street Lounge is located at 7215 E 22nd St., Ste 101. Hours are Monday-Wednesday from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday-Saturday from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit hopstreetlounge.com.

Jake O’Rourke is a Tucson native, writer, editor, and musician. He enjoys tasting his way through Tucson’s copious food and craft beer options, listening to live music, and writing about the experiences he has within these endeavors.

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