Featuring Kevin Eggen, VP of Development for Hops n Drops
Hops n Drops started in 2009 with its first location in Bonney Lake, Washington, and has grown to 21 locations in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado with plans for continued expansion. The concept is a favorite neighborhood gathering place specializing in friendly hospitality, excellent burgers, ice cold beer, and signature cocktails that feature real fruit icy drops served in a glass made of ice. The company is built on a culture of trust, quality service, and a multi-faceted commitment to community giving. Kevin Eggen is the VP of Development and part of the founding family.
How did Hops n Drops get started?
My parents Mark and Shauna Eggen started Hops n Drops in the summer of 2009. We opened our first location in Bonney Lake, WA. Mark took every dime he had to his name to open the restaurant. He wanted to create a company he would be proud to work for. Shauna was the first employee and waited tables for the first few years. I started out as a bartender.
Hops n Drops was created for working class people who enjoy a cold beer and a fresh meal. The idea was to create a bar with really good food that is family friendly. We are family friendly, but if you are looking for someone to sing you happy birthday with a hot fudge sundae, we are not that place. As we grow, we want to be everyone’s favorite gathering place. We acknowledge that everyone has their work and their home, which we now understand in a lot of cases is one in the same place now, and we want to be that “other” place for them where they are welcomed like home, but all their needs are catered to by our amazing team!
The drops are our signature cocktails. We serve our cocktails, mostly lemon drops, in a cup made of ice! We have a machine that makes eight icy cups every half hour. We purchase the machines from Italy which comes with its challenges, but it is worth it. The ice mold is placed inside of another glass, so your hands don’t freeze while you’re drinking it. We can usually spot a first-time icy drop drinker when they pull the ice mold out of the glass to inspect it. Good luck only drinking one of these.
How are you faring through this whole pandemic era?
Depending on the day you ask me we are either at a two or an eight on a 1-10 scale. We all know the pandemic had a huge impact on the restaurant and service industry. We choose to control what we can control and make the best out of our situation. During the pandemic we have grown as a company for the better. We have gained trust with our team by being transparent and compassionate. We have adopted technology from touchless payments, third-party delivery, online ordering and meetings on zoom. The pandemic has been rough, but it has made us and our team stronger and more adaptable.
What are the plans for the continued growth of Hops n Drops?
We plan to grow. Our goal is to open three restaurants in 2022. Unfortunately, there is still uncertainty on when more seating capacity will be allowed. Once we are at 100% dining capacity, we will be in full growth mode.
This requires a long answer! Our community involvement program is called the Hops n Drops Helping Hand. It is broken down into 5 different focuses which serve as the Five Fingers of our Helping Hand.
- The Good Neighbor Fund. We recognize that sometimes people go through traumatic experiences that can often serve to derail them financially. Our team members and guests alike are often impacted by disease, catastrophe, death, or any number of unforeseeable events. We recognize that they do not need a “hand out”, but a “hand up” to make it through these challenging times. We will also contribute to organizations with the same mission.
Funding– The money for the Good Neighbor Fund comes from the sale of our Hops n Drops Branded Beers. For every Hops n Drops beer sold in our restaurant we donate $.25 to the Good Neighbor Fund.
How we determine who receives the funds- There is a committee made up of two team members, a manager, our Community Outreach Coordinator, one of our accountants, and our Director of Charities. Requests are made by general managers and the committee gives a response within 24 hours.
What have we helped with- Paid mortgage payments, rent, provided gift cards for gas and essentials, paid for airline tickets, and even funerals.
- Kids Feeding Kids. This initiative was created to combat childhood hunger in each of our communities. We understand that it is tough to focus on getting a great education when your stomach is growling.
Funding: Our littlest guests fund this program. $.50 from every kid’s meal we sell goes right back into that local community. Our young guests love that they are helping the kids in their neighborhood and schools.
Some of the Organizations we Fund with this money:
- Issaquah Education Foundation- Klahanie
- 2nd Harvest Tri- Cities- Kennewick
- Good Neighbor Pantry Project- Sherwood
- Hops n Drops Scholarship Fund. Hops n Drops wants to make getting a degree areality for any team member who desires to pursue their education in areas of study that can be used in the restaurant industry as a whole as well as Hops n Drops, specifically. Our friends at Pepsi and Demitri’s Bloody Mary Mix have partnered with us to create this fund.
Degrees we have helped fund:
- Human Resources
- Project Management
- Food Science
- Fundraiser/ Takeover Nights. Each of our restaurants links up with local non-profit organizations, sports teams, PTOs, or even local families in need and organizes a Fund Raiser night. During these events we donate 20% of all sales to that organization. We also work with our vendors to create silent auctions, gift baskets, or bracelets to sell for additional funds. Each of our restaurants does a fundraiser every quarter. That means four a year per restaurant. This year we hope to do 84 fundraiser nights across the company!
- Volunteerism. There are two ways to show your love, giving your treasure and your time. Our Volunteer movement is about giving our time to improve our communities.
How this works: In each of our restaurants we have a passionate volunteer lead who seeks out local opportunities for us to make an impact!
Ways we have volunteered: Walking dogs at animal shelters, cleaning animal sanctuaries, walking at Relay for Life, working with Habitat for Humanity, serving meals at the food bank, and cleaning up local parks.
In addition to the Helping Hand, we also do Seasonal events:
- Bikes for Tykes: in the month of December each of our restaurants collects new bikes, scooters, and helmets and donates them to local children.
- Movember: our male team members and managers pay to grow a beard in the month of November. We donate this money to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in support of Colon Cancer.
- Stuff the bus: We collect new school supplies every September for foster children.
- Crayon Initiative: We recycle all the crayons we use with our kid’s meals. They are melted down and re-used as new crayons and given to children.
Click here to learn more about Hops n Drops.
Rebecca Patt specializes in retained executive search for the restaurant industry with Wray Executive Search. Need to hire an ace executive for your team? Email her at email@example.com.
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to Wray Executive Search Executive Connection. Our monthly publication includes industry news, executive movements and thought-provoking articles.