Gerry Rooney recently opened Circa Brewing Co. – a 6,000 square foot brewery and restaurant – bringing the freshest possible beer to Downtown Brooklyn. Born into a family of professional bakers and chefs, Rooney was just 12-years old when he landed his first job as a busboy at a local neighborhood pub in Dublin. During this time, he learned the meaning of hard work and persistence, as well as the importance of a strong team. In 2004 Rooney moved to the United States to pursue a career in hospitality and in 2011 opened his first establishment, Putnam’s Pub & Cooker. Both Circa and Putnam’s were built with Rooney’s ultimate philosophy in mind: creating a memorable and emotional connection with each and every guest through unique experiences.
Q: What would you be if you weren’t in your current role?
A: A bartender. I studied Computer Programming and Database Design in college, so 100% no question, I’d be a bartender
Q: What was the biggest roadblock you faced when starting your career?
A: I was always asked, “what is your real job?” People always assumed I was on my way to doing something else. I was not. I have loved this business since I cleaned my first ashtray in the bar I worked in when I was 12 years old. Cleaning ashtrays was my only responsibility. And I nailed it every time.
Q: What’s the last hobby you picked up?
A: I’m a certified search and rescue scuba diver. I love the ocean and I’d live down there if I could.
Circa Beer Lineup, Photo Credit Alex Welsh
Q: What is the last picture you took on your phone?
A: They’re all of Penny, my little girl.
Q: What cheers you up?
Q: Who is someone in your field you really admire and why?
A: Danny Meyer. After reading his book I knew I was in the right business, doing what I was meant to be doing. It confirmed a lot of my instincts and intuitions, and made me aware of things I’d never once considered. “Constant gentle pressure” is one of my favorite Meyer philosophies.
Q: What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
A: Always listen very closely to your staff.
Q: What is your go-to brunch order?
A: Coffee, egg, ham and cheese on a Portuguese muffin.
Q: Is there a brand you’d consider on top of what’s next?
A: I mean the obvious answer is Apple. They’re leaders in their industries, but that’s all about the marketing, and we’re not allowed to like big business anymore right? I love Bells Brewery in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Their beer is on point, always.
Q: What’s the best thing about living in NY? What’s the worst thing?
A: Best: 4am closing time Worst: Dry cleaners operating hours, they always seem to be closed.
Q: If you were able to send a one-sentence note to your 13-year-old self, what would you say?
A: Don’t be in such a hurry to grow up, because you can never grow down