UNIVERSAL CITY, Texas – A Universal City veteran with a business vision overcame the obstacles in his way and is now gearing for the grand opening of his new brewery.
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michael Voeller stayed busy and turned an old building into a place for friends and neighbors to unite.
“It’s a culture that we want to set for the local community, that this is where they can come together,” said Voeller, owner of Gather Brewing Co.
Fourteen months since discussing his plans with KSAT, his vision is now a reality. The former U.S. Coast Guard cook turned his passion for food and newfound hobby for brewing into one of the newest businesses in Universal City.
“I want (patrons) to feel filled, not just with food and beer. Of course, that’s going to happen, but, like, with that feeling of I got something from being here,” Voeller said.
There’s been several bumps and a pandemic along the road to the grand opening for Voeller: the rising costs of doing business, the February winter storm, and a staffing shortage -- just to name a few.
“Pivoting probably happened where we have to cut costs and figure out a different way to do something but meet the level of excellence that we want to be at,” Voeller said.
While the main attraction is the brewery, he says he wants people to be pleasantly surprised by their unique menu, which has some Korean-inspired dishes.
“Everything that we put into our food is -- the goal was to give people something they never had before, but they’re going to love,” Voeller said.
The brewery is a first for the city and surrounding community.
“I’ve been waiting for them to have a microbrew in Universal City for a long time,” said Doug Dusenberry, a new customer.
Customers say it’s living up to the hype.
“The whole gathering thing is very inviting, you know? I mean, sometimes you go to a bar, and it’s so loud, but you know where you can hang out and have conversations with friends and family. It’s very inviting,” Dusenberry added.
The hope is to add to the city’s overall master plan to turn the surrounding area into a walkable food, shopping and drinking attraction.
“I love just having the interaction with customers -- see them enjoy the beer, seeing them connect like this. These long beer garden tables we have here connect (patrons) with a new friend that they didn’t know that they would meet that night,” Voeller said.