WYOMING — Linus and Renata De Paoli left their corporate lives working as engineers in Germany and have opened a new brewery to introduce a range of international food and beer culture to West Michigan.
The De Paolis moved to West Michigan in December 2020 to open 3 Gatos Brewery LLC in the former Kitzingen Brewery located at 1760 44th St. SW in Wyoming. The couple both worked at Ford Motor Co. in their home country of Brazil and were transferred to Germany before they changed career paths.
Owner Linus De Paoli started taking brewing classes in Germany shortly before he quit his job at Ford. While taking the classes at the world-renowned brewing training institute VLB-Berlin, De Paoli met Rommie Bailey, who owned Kitzingen Brewery at the time. Bailey was looking to retire and proposed that Linus and Renata De Paoli take over Kitzingen.
“We made the decision to buy the business because we were not just buying an asset. We were also buying the customers so we were not starting from scratch,” Linus said. “When you buy something that’s already up and running, you can start making money on day one, and we already had a set of regular customers that were used to coming here.”
The goal was for the brewery to open in 2020. After several pandemic-related delays, 3 Gatos had its soft opening on July 2, which was well-attended by the local community and mug club members. The brewery is now gearing up for a grand opening event on Sept. 10, the same week as Brazilian Independence Day.
“The biggest impact (of the pandemic) for us was last year we wanted to move here and take over the business much sooner, but couldn’t because of COVID-19,” Linus De Paoli said. “It was a big relief when we could finally open up because it was a long journey to get here and start opening our business.”
The couple’s visa process took much longer than usual, and once they got to the U.S. the process of securing personal identification paperwork like a social security number took about three months. That further delayed the process of officially opening 3 Gatos, De Paoli said.
3 Gatos has reached sufficient staffing levels after initial difficulties finding workers, De Paoli said.
“We’re not about fast turnover, it’s about creating good experiences,” De Paoli said. “I want someone to sit here for an hour and a half, have two or three beers, and have a good time. That’s what’s most important to me, and I think that’s the biggest difference between U.S. restaurants and restaurants in Europe.”
The De Paolis learned in Germany about the importance of work-life balance, which Linus De Paoli said is not the cultural norm in Brazil or the U.S. He wants to create an atmosphere in 3 Gatos to bring people together and find a better balance for his employees and patrons, he said.
“Beer for me is a social lubricant, it’s something that helps bring people together,” De Paoli said. “It’s a facilitator of getting people together in a nice environment where they can relax, have a good time and meet new people.”
Before moving to West Michigan, Linus worked as an apprentice at a brewery in Germany. He then took over as head brewer and brewed about 150 batches of beer in about a year and a half. There are currently six beers and two ciders on tap at 3 Gatos with more coming soon, Linus said. The goal is to maintain at least three German-style beers and three IPAs on tap at any given time, as well as a range of creative options, he said.
“I want to offer up a nice range for people so they can always find something they like,” he said.
3 Gatos currently has mostly Brazilian bar food on its menu, including cheese rolls made with tapioca flour, deep-fried dumplings, a heart of palm pie and three different sandwiches. German food and a range of food inspired from the De Paolis travels around Europe will be added to the menu.
“That’s the vision: To share a little bit of beer and food culture we have encountered in our life with the people who come here,” Linus De Paoli said.