SLIDESHOW: 6 tidbits about one of Austin’s first craft beer bars, which turns 30 this year

On Nov. 7, 1987, B.B. Rover's Cafe & Pub opened at 12636 Research Blvd. near Jollyville Road.

On Nov. 7, 1987, B.B. Rover's Cafe & Pub opened at 12636 Research Blvd. near Jollyville Road.

B.B. Rover's Cafe & Pub Co-owner David Dunn (right) meets with Pierre Celis, the founder of Celis Brewery. Pierre's daughter, Christine Celis, reopened the brewery in June.[/caption]

Long before the craft beer craze swept through Austin, one Northwest Austin pub stayed ahead of the curve, becoming well-known for its vast beer selection.

John Gross and Jack and Diane McClary opened B.B. Rover’s Cafe & Pub on Nov. 7, 1987, at 12636 Research Blvd., Ste. B101, Austin. It was an offshoot of their business in Houston called TV Rover’s.

The McClarys both died several years ago, and Gross now owns the bar with David Dunn and Eugene Downing.

Since its opening, the pub has focused being a neighborhood pub first and a craft beer bar second, said Dunn, who has been with the pub for about 26 years.

“It was ahead of its time with craft beer,” he said. “We get a lot of stuff first, the limited brews. The beer companies know this is a good first place to try them out.”

In celebration of the neighborhood pub’s 30th anniversary, here are six things to know about B.B. Rover’s:

1. Some people thought the pub would never survive by serving only beer and wine.

Dunn said this policy helps keep the business family-friendly.

2. The name is a tribute to one of the original owner’s pets.

Rover is an African gray parrot who is now about 45 years old. The parrot talks and can mimic people and sounds, Dunn said.

Initially the parrot stayed in the bar but is now commemorated in a neon sign.

B.B. Rover's Cafe & Pub Two of the original owners, Jack and Diane McClary, traveled throughout the world and tried different beers.[/caption]

3. Jack and Diane loved to travel.

The McClarys enjoyed trying beer from various countries and collecting the labels from the brews they tried. For a brief period, the couple owned a bar in New Zealand, Dunn said.

Those labels were later incorporated into the tabletops and the bar top.

4. B.B. Rover’s has been around since before much of Northwest Austin was built out.

Gross said the city had just paved Jollyville Road when the pub opened, and not many office buildings existed except for Texas Instruments.

In the heyday of the dot-com bubble, he said the pub saw a lot of international patrons.

5. The pub makes most of its bar food from scratch.

The pub’s Reuben sandwich is by far its most popular sandwich, Gross said, but B.B. Rover’s also serves pizza, burgers, salads and soups, all of which are homemade. Breakfast is available on the weekends.

6. More than 1,400 people belong to the pub’s 101 Club.

If someone drinks 101 different beers from B.B. Rover’s, he or she is initiated into the 101 Club and gets a commemorative T-shirt. In 30 years, 1,425 people have joined that club, including three generations of one family, Gross said. The pub hosts an annual celebration each Labor Day for its members.

Anyone interested in reaching that milestone asks for a 101 Club sheet and marks off the beers he or she has tried. Customers keep track of their list on an honor system.

“By the time you get to 100, we know all about you,” Gross said.

By Amy Denney
Amy has worked for Community Impact Newspaper since September 2010, serving as reporter and then senior editor for the Northwest Austin edition and covering transportation. She is now managing editor for the nine publications in the Central Texas area.


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