Hops Grill & Brewery
In 1988 an idea was conceived to combine fresh, high quality food with on-site microbrewed beer in a casual dining atmosphere. After months of planning and research, a new restaurant was constructed at the end of a shopping plaza on US 19 in Clearwater, Fl. The restaurant was named Hops Grill and Bar and featured a diverse selection of menu items to appeal to a range of classic American tastes. To complement the food, brand new copper and steel kettles were installed to brew four signature beers developed by a third generation Brewmaster. The concept became an immediate success. Within three years, two more locations had opened up on both sides of the Tampa Bay. By the mid 1990’s, there were thirteen Hops Grill and Bars operating within the state of Florida.
In 1996 the course of growth changed for Hops. Avado Brands, Inc. formerly known as Apple South, Inc., took an interest in the fast growing concept. In 1997 Hops was bought by Apple South, Inc., and joined their family of restaurant concepts that included Don Pablo’s. In early 2008, Rita Restaurant Corp. bought all the remaining Hop’s restaurants from Avado Brands and still owns both Hops and Don Pablo’s corporate locations.
Hops recipes were created by a third generation Brewmaster, who developed the beers to appeal to the American palate. Four permanent beer selections-brewed at a central location- include, Clearwater Light, Lightning Bold Gold, a classic American lager style beer, Hammerhead Red, a rich, malt amber ale, and Alligator Ale , a full-bodied, mahogany colored ale with a smooth finish. In addition to the four corporate beers offered, each location brews on-site one of their seasonal beers.
Over the years, Hops has continued to close locations, and now only the Alexandria, VA, Hops remains operational. The parent company, Rita Restaurant Corp., that operates 16 Don Pablo’s in 10 states, and and one the one remaining Hops Grill and Brewery, filed for chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Antonio, in October 2016.