In the four years since it opened, Cap & Cork Liquor Store has become known for its first rate selection of domestic craft beer.
Owner Dharminder Singh Baria, known as Sethi, said dates when new releases will be available at the store are posted on the store’s Facebook page, and customers pay attention. When Founders Brewery in Grand Rapids released its much anticipated Kentucky Breakfast Stout this year, customers snapped up the store’s entire supply within 45 minutes, said Baria. He joked that beer lovers practically “follow the trucks” that carry their favorite brews.
Baria’s son Manu oversees keeping the beer cooler, the wine racks, and shelves of liquor well stocked. The family is Sikh and does not smoke or drink alcohol for religious reasons. Manu said he relies on reading ratings and reviews among other sources, as well as his experience working in the store, talking to vendors, and customers’ feedback.
A post on the store’s Facebook page by a customer notes, “Great Guys that run it and seem to really know their stuff about craft beer and what their customers want.”
The store is family owned and run with Sethi’s wife Rani also working there. They opened the store at 3924 West River Drive in downtown Comstock Park in 2010.
“We looked at stores and found a liquor license here (Comstock Park),” said Sethi. “It’s a nice area…it’s worked out business-wise.”
Rani said it took a couple years for the business to get established. The building, which had housed a drugstore for decades, stood vacant for a number of years before they moved in.
“Because the building had been closed, people didn’t know we were here,” she said, adding it took a lot of advertising to build a steady customer base.
Sethi said the White Pine Trail that runs behind the store as well as Dwight Lydell Park across the street help their business because trail and park users stop in for juice, water and snacks.
The Barias, who have three children including Manu, recently expanded their business, purchasing Ogie’s Party Store in North Park in May. Sethi said they made that business decision because they didn’t want competition from someone else who might have bought that store which is about a mile away.
Besides the abundant assortment of beer, and the usual supply of party store snacks, there are three racks of wine, many of them Michigan wines. The store is also the site of occasional in-store brewery hosted sampling events. Dates for upcoming samplings are posted on the store’s Facebook page.
The family is originally from the Punjab region of northern India, where Sethi’s father owned a large vegetable and rice farm. The family moved to Sacramento California in 1989, along with many extended family members. Sethi worked in his father’s convenience store and Rani worked as a medical receptionist.
The Baria’s relocated to West Michigan in 2009, and Sethi said it made sense for him to open a convenience store “because that’s what I know.” He said they quickly realized craft beers enjoy a much bigger popularity in Michigan where Grand Rapids is Beer City USA than in the Sacramento area.
Manu, who is attending Grand Rapids Community College and wants to study dentistry, noted he likes to feature local products, because that’s where the demand is and it “helps the city, the state’s economy.”