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Bethel spot to land new twist on craft-beer pub

February 13, 2019

A central Connecticut restaurateur with a trio of pubs serving gourmet pretzels is bringing a similar concept to downtown Bethel, envisioning a venue with appeal both as a casual daytime spot as well as a place to socialize in the evenings.

John Schauster and Mike Boney run The Hop Knot pretzel and craft beer chain with locations in Middletown, Southington and Storrs, with menus running from traditional warm pretzels to sandwiches and desserts featuring pretzel dough. The Hop Knot has the stated goal of franchising more than 30 additional locations over a five-year period.

In Bethel, Schauster and Samantha Lupacchino are listed as the principles for Proof, the planned eatery at 1 Front St. along Greenwood Avenue, across the tracks from the Broken Symmetry Gastro Pub inside the town’s historic commuter rail station.

The Bethel building once housed The Spot sports bar.

The Spot closed in February 2017 after 13 years in business under Salvatore A. Maniscalco and his son Tony, with the elder Maniscalco dying a year later. The 3,500-square-foot building was sold last April for $375,000, with the original structuring dating back to 1915.

On Facebook, Schauster and Lupacchino have been previewing the past several weeks possible Proof menu offerings, to include flatbread pretzel pizza and pretzel-wrapped Oreo cookies. The pair are promising a daily happy hour, bar games and an LGBTQ-friendly venue.

For $80 a year, Proof is offering membership in a “mug club” with patrons able to personalize their own 20-ounce glasses, priced at that of a 16-ounce pint. In addition to some 20 taps with craft beers from local and national brewers, Proof will serve cider and kombucha.

If The Hop Knot has exhibited staying power, Schauster and Boney did not have similar success with Disco Chick, their attempt at a wings bar in Middletown with dry rubs and sauces ranging from the traditional like buffalo to the out-of-the-ordinary like peanut butter and jelly. Boney told the Middletown Press the pair opened Disco Chick after taking over a restaurant near The Hop Knot to secure extra storage space, and decided to try out the wings concept.

Alex.Soule@scni.com; 203-842-2545; @casoulman

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