By Mathew Klickstein
Tipp City’s Lisa Richards felt something was missing from her hometown. And from that sense of lack came the vision for what would eventually manifest a new local craft brewery, wine bar, and gathering space: Chaffee’s Brewhouse (15 S. 2nd St.).
It was during September of 2020 that Richards, previously a longtime bartender, first opened the doors on the wood-paneled and brick-exposed, comfortably upscale tavern pronounced “chafe-ees.”
“We first started working on it right around when the Pandemic hit,” Richards laughs. “It took seven or eight months to get it really going and was a slow process, since we were doing most of the work ourselves, except for the plumbing and the electrical.”
Photos by Matt Bayman and Chaffee's Brewhouse
“Ourselves” being Richards (pictured above) and her husband Shawn, along with Shawn’s father and Richards’ daughters. A true family affair for a laid-back lounge that would indeed end up imbued with an innate aura of wholesome welcoming and warmth.
For Richards and the Chaffee’s crew and clientele, it’s important to carry a variety of choices at which to spend an evening of socializing at a local watering hole. They offer a full bar, specialty cocktails, eclectic mocktails, and wine, along with the craft beer.
As Tipp City and surrounding townships continue to expand and welcome in a more eclectic citizenry, so too must the area business concerns keep up with fresh and diverse options for consumer satisfaction.
After the two old friends from Tippecanoe High School reacquainted and married in November of 2019, Richards and Shawn began talking about that aforementioned craving for “something new, something different” in town.
“Shawn is really into craft beer and I’m more into wine,” Richards continued. “I also really like cocktails – making them and creating new ones and whatnot. So, we thought, why not: let’s do it!”
“Shawn and I both had previous bar experience and combined with his expertise at building and maintaining draft systems it has worked out to be a great team effort.”
Opening Chaffee’s during the peak of the Covid-19 Pandemic, as can be imagined, wasn’t easy. But, as Richards put it, “Even though we had all of the Covid restrictions going, with people having to wear masks and social distancing, they also really responded well to what we were trying to do. It was a new place to go, people were starting to get comfortable going out again, and now here we are.”
“We’re in the Chaffee’s Opera House building,” Richards explains about what had long been, built by Sidney Chaffee, one of Ohio’s oldest opera houses, which Chaffee continued to expand for years after first establishing the music venue in 1867.
“Tipp City has changed a lot over the years,” Richards, who left for a lengthy tenure before coming back to her native city in 2008, observes. “There’s so much more variety downtown now, with all the new shops and restaurants and all of that. It used to be known as a place to go antiquing, and I think it still is.
“That’s a good thing, too. But now we have so many other different shops, boutiques, and places like the bakery, the candy store, and our bar.”
Although Richards is intent on keeping Chaffee’s offerings “simple” – e.g., no edibles except for a basic charcuterie board – she’s certainly been open to allowing the space to be used for live events such as musical performances and a monthly pop culture trivia night that typically runs every first Tuesday of the month.
“The trivia is a lot of fun and has really taken off,” Richards says about the free event open to the public and for which winners receive a $25 gift certificate redeemable at the bar.
“We did try live music at first in the bar area, but the acoustics weren’t really right. Now we’re able to do it much better after expanding to what we call the ‘wine vault’ in the back room (pictured above) we expanded into and opened up during the summer of 2022.
“We’ve had a lot of musicians reach out, and it’s always a great time, usually free. People can find out more about who’s playing and when on our Facebook page.”
Richards is well aware that Chaffee’s “brings in people from other places who travel here just for us and our craft beer. We get a lot of people who come in from all sorts of places, who hear about us from friends or from [bar searching] apps like Untappd.”
A lot of newbies to Chaffee’s come in surprised at some of the specialized craft brews available that they may not be able to find elsewhere, Richards suggests, noting that the public response has been extremely good since the beginning, snowballing into exponential growth every year since opening.
“There’s a real quality to Ohio craft beer these days,” Richards concludes.
“We’re proud to be able to help represent that. We’ve been a complement to the many other businesses in town, and I think that’s why we’ve been so well received and will continue to be as the area continues to expand and change. And, of course, people in Tipp love craft beer and wine!”
Follow Chaffee's on Facebook to learn about upcoming events and activities HERE.