By Jennifer Farnsworth
These days, a retired Air Force veteran is running a business with a mix of organized military mindset and happy family man.
Mike Hojnicki is operating Spa City Brew Bus, with the help of his wife Heather. He provides a bus service to take people to various breweries, wineries and distilleries in the area.
He said the idea is something that he started thinking about while stationed in Antarctica as part of the Stratton Air National Guard Base in Glenville.
“When we had down time, we would go on the amazing wine tours, I would say to myself: ‘One of these days,’”said Hojnicki.
Hojnicki retired and spent some time in the corporate world before discovering it was not the right fit for him. At that time, he and his wife decided to start the tour business.
The four-hour tour includes four bus stops of about 45 minutes at each location so that passengers can have time to make the most of their visit. Hojnicki said Spa City Brew Bus works with about 75 different businesses, ranging from Paradox Brewery in Schroon Lake to the Henry Street Tap Room in Saratoga Springs. They have also partnered with the Saratoga Brewing Co., Druthers Brewing Co., R.S. Taylor & Sons Brewery and Artisanal Brew Works.
Currently, the bus runs on weekends only, but Hojnicki plans to be running tours daily throughout the spring and summer.
He said his business is more than just a ride to go from bar to bar. He hopes to help people learn about everything that goes into the art of making a craft beverage.
“I want this to be more a learning experience, a fun one. But also to show all of the work that goes into these products. I am really trying to emphasize that we have great products here in New York state,” said Hojnicki.
Another important part of the business that the Hojnickis have built is that it is 100 percent veteran run. All of the drivers hired are veterans, all part of giving back, said Hojnicki.
“That is something that is really important to me,” said Hojnicki.
Since opening in October, Spa City Brew Bus has been going strong. Hojnicki said they have been booked with private charters, but have had a good amount of interest in individual ticket sales as well.
The 24-passenger vehicle goes around to different area breweries, wineries, distilleries and cideries. Once a destination is reached, patrons can enjoy tasting sessions. In between stops, there is entertainment such as games, trivia and karaoke.
The bus even includes a large cooler where people can store items they may have purchased along the way.
Hojnicki credits the organization with the years of being in the military, adding that his wife has a background in education, which helps as well.
“We wanted to cover every aspect of the experience,” said Hojnicki.
Spa City Brew Bus tours are led by a knowledgeable guide, as well as a designated driver. Tickets are $65 per person and can be purchased online.
For more information, visit www.spacitybrewbus.com or call 518-309-2739.