World of Beer turns into locally owned CraftHouse

The swollen brew list at World of Beer is whittled from about 500 to half that at CraftHouse, with an emphasis on DMV beers.

Photo courtesy of Crafthouse

When Evan Matz first walked into a World of Beer, it was just that: beer. No wine, no booze, no food. At that time, he worked in business operations in South Florida. He had no experience in the hospitality industry. But he says he “saw a lot of growth opportunity,” which sounds like something a person wearing a tie and not a chef’s coat would say.

Because Virginia ABC mandates 45 percent of sales come from food or nonalcoholic beverages, Matz decided that the commonwealth was where he wanted to pitch his franchisee idea to World of Beer because the company would have to agree to food sales for it be a viable business under the law.

Matz and his wife (his kids were already in college) moved from Florida to Virginia to open his first World of Beer in Arlington. He developed the menu with classic bar food staples—Bavarian pretzels, sandwiches, soups, brats—and soon a majority of the World of Beer locations across the country adopted a similar menu.

Almost five years later, Matz—who opened World of Beer locations in Reston and Fairfax—disassociated from the brand to open CraftHouse this May.

The swollen brew list at World of Beer is whittled from about 500 to half that at CraftHouse, with an emphasis on D.C., Maryland and Virginia beers (about 50 on draft) and eventually more spirits and wines from Virginia.

Matz says “99 percent of the items are different or new” at CraftHouse, but the feel is similar: tacos, tots, loaded sandwiches, flatbreads and a slate of burgers. CraftHouse pushes the line of decency with some of those combinations: diced ahi tuna and pickled cucumber salad with ginger-soy aioli on a burger; a fried mac and cheese ball flattened with Buffalo ranch sauce on a burger; and crunchy peanut butter, a fried egg and Thousand Island dressing on a beef and bacon burger.

Though craft is in the name, CraftHouse’s menu isn’t tied to seasonal produce. In fact, Matz says, “We try to keep the produce consistent so we don’t have to change the menu.”
The line from food writer Kathleen Purvis comes to mind: “If everything is craft, is anything craft?”

(July 2017)