Wife Inspires Husband to Build Brewery Business Together - Guide to Greater Tampa Bay
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Wife Inspires Husband to Build Brewery Business Together

Wife Inspires Husband to Build Brewery Business Together

Often overlooked, Seminole Heights in Greater Tampa Bay is experiencing a renaissance. Murals and artwork beautify the walls of businesses. New shops, breweries and restaurants are popping up left and right. A vibrant mix of historic and modern homes can be found on almost every block. Things are changing, and entrepreneurs are noticing. 

Located on the corner of Florida Ave and Wilder Ave, Common Dialect Beerworks is the perfect place to bring the kids, the dogs and quench the thirst for great beer.  

With a wealth of natural light and open airflow that greets guests when they step through the door, the bright colors and living-room vibes make it a splendid spot to share laughs, experiences, and of course, delicious craft brews. 

Over six years in the making, Common Dialect is one of the latest additions to the blossoming brewery neighborhood that Seminole Heights has become, thanks to a wave of locals investing in their community. 

Meet Mike and Kendra

Founders Mike and Kendra Conze epitomize this new wave. The two met over a few beers at a birthday party bonfire in 2009. Eight years later, the couple married and settled down in Seminole Heights where Kendra has called home since she was a student at USF. 

It was during their honeymoon when they began to daydream of what they could create as a team. This is where the idea of serving beer to the neighborhood was born. 

“It was just an idea we had, something we could do together someday,” said Kendra. 

At first, the idea seemed more like a fantasy than a reality. The couple had their hands full with starting a family and raising two children. Mike had a stable nine-to-five job in sanitation.  

Kendra was busy building her first business, a pet supply store and grooming shop called Health Mutt. Her business took off and established itself as a neighborhood fixture in the Heights community. 

“I’ve seen her run a business for the better part of a decade, I was here. I was around when she first opened Health Mutt, and her development and growth as a business owner and an entrepreneur has just been astronomical,” Mike said. “I’ve never seen anybody excel at something so quickly.” 

Health Mutt was running itself and she found herself in a difficult—although fortunate—predicament as the store’s lease neared its end: franchise the business or double down on the neighborhood and start something new? 

“We’ve seen a lot of the really cool things that people have done in the area, and it’s really exciting. I thought it’d be fun to be a part of something like that,” said Kendra. “We live in the neighborhood, so we definitely knew it was important to us to put money back into this area as opposed to franchising out.” 

Mike agreed Seminole Heights was the best place for their new venture. 

What started as a home-brew hobby, Mike’s passion for brewing beer eventually became a career. After getting laid-off, he started a humble beginning at Brew Hub in Lakeland cleaning kegs. After a few years, Mike had climbed his way to the top of the ladder to become Head Brewer. 

As Mike continued to master the art of brewing, Kendra had already planted the seeds that would grow to become their own brewery. She bought a warehouse along Florida Avenue, a main artery through the neighborhood, just a couple of blocks from their home. The space allowed her plenty of room to expand Health Mutt’s neighborhood paw-print with some spare square footage for an adjacent beer-brewing venture. 

In the wake of both of their successes, Kendra saw an opportunity to realize their honeymoon dream. 

“I was kind of ready for the challenge and [Mike] was ready for the challenge. And we had seen so many other businesses popping up over the years. It just made us antsy,” said Kendra. “We could see that he had reached a level of success brewing. And so, it’s just one of those things you kind of look at it and put all the pieces together. ‘Yeah, it’s time for us to do it.’” 

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The Conzes pulled it off without any help. No lawyers. No partners. No investors. Their vision became a reality with Kendra’s business-savvy, Mike’s beer and Health Mutt’s success. 

“The reality is Health Mutt has been very good to us and the neighborhood has been very good to us,” Mike said smiling. “[Kendra’s] strength and her tenacity are just absolutely outrageous. I think there’s absolutely nobody on this earth that I’d rather open a business with than her.” 

The couple divided responsibilities in the obvious fashion with Kendra running the front of the house and Mike in control of the alchemy in the back. 

Kendra designed the space herself, from every inch given to each table and the precise light bulb combination for the right ambiance, to the layout and décor inside to the artificial pet turf and chew toys outside. 

“Seeing how people are enjoying the space and seeing who’s coming in and feeling like we did what we set out to do, which was really provide a dog and family-friendly space for our neighbors and people in our community to sit down and have shared experiences and find commonalities with one another,” said Kendra. 

“It’s one of those things where you have an idea and then it just kind of keeps building and building and building, and then it becomes this huge thing like, ‘whoa, we just made something crazy happen.’” 

Common Dialect Beerworks is located at 5023 N Florida Avenue. The beer flows Monday-Wednesday from 2-8pm, Thursday-Saturday noon-10pm and Sundays 1-10pm. 

By Jordan Ogren.

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