We have a few current and former teachers working in the Tasting Room, and it makes sense: one of the most important aspects of the Tasting Room is that we need to provide an “educational experience”. Teachers are uniquely qualified to provide exactly that.
And one of our newest Greeters, Tom Myers, has spent most of his life in education, first as an elementary school teacher and eventually retiring as a principal.
“Tom is a former educator so he fits naturally into the role of Greeter and tour guide,” says Tasting Room General Manager Chris Costello. “His engaging personality is perfect for welcoming our guests into the Tasting Room. It also didn’t hurt that we both are PSU alumni.”
“I still bleed Blue,” he jokes.
Tom’s education background is impressive, having begun his career as an elementary education teacher in Drexel Hill, and working his way up almost as high as one can go in public education, as an Acting Superintendent. He taught fifth and sixth grade before attending Rowan University — then Glassboro State College — for his Master’s. He’s since received both his principal certification and his superintendent certification.
He’d been at a few different school districts throughout his career, including Woodbury Heights and Monroe Township.
“My wife and I moved to Gloucester County after we got married in ‘84,” he says. “The jobs were scarce in Delaware County. I got a job in East Greenwich, where we lived for nineteen years in Mickleton. Then we moved to Wenonah before we retired.”
Tom was an Assistant Principal in a fourth-through-eighth grade building for five years before becoming a principal at Woodbury Heights School and then in Monroe Township.
“I retired in 2016,” he says. “It was the best move I ever made.”
He credits the experience of being an Eagle Scout with influencing much of the values in his life.
“The entire experience of camping and scouting were huge influences in my life,” Tom says. “‘Be Prepared’, always try your best in everything — these were huge influences in my life, shaping my values. My parents were extremely positive and supportive of my dreams and aspirations, especially in joining scouts and eventually becoming an educator.”
When it comes to music, Tom says that he’s a fan of “the oldies.”
“You know, ‘old-time rock-and-roll’,” he says. “The original groups I love are Chicago, Billy Joel, Elton John, Queen. You know, great rock groups from throughout the years. The Beatles. I love The Beatles. I’ve seen Boz Skaggs. The first concert I ever went to was Chicago Transit Authority. Chicago’s original name before they became Chicago was ‘Chicago Transit Authority’. I saw them at The Spectrum.”
Even naming The Spectrum is enough to place Tom in time.
“The higher you’d sit, the more you could bang on the ventilators and make some noise,” Tom laughs.
He’s a big Philly sports fan, too.
“Basketball’s probably my least favorite as far as the pros go,” he says, “but I grew up loving baseball and football. The Phillies and the Eagles, but, obviously, growing up in Pennsylvania, you’re always a Penn State fan, and that’s what kind of attracted me to Penn State University. I love college football. It’s probably my favorite to watch. If we can’t have Penn State Football this year, I’m going to go through a little mood withdrawal.”
After retirement, Tom joined a senior bowling league.
“It’s funny, but we have a blast!” he says, laughing. “I’m the youngest guy in the league! You might think I’d be the best, but there were like five guys who were in their late 70s who had 190 averages. They were crankin’ it. I was just there for the fun.”
During the pandemic, Tom has gotten into golf, both watching and playing.
“I’m a member of Cape May National,” he says. “I just joined. I love watching, too. Golf is one sport that you can still participate in during the pandemic. We’ve got to get more taps of Cape May brew over there, though.”
We have two dedicated lines at Cape May National Golf Course, but Tom wants more! (Better get on it, Richie.)
Tom is a big family man. He and wife Diane have been married for almost 36 years.
“It sounds cliche,” he says, “but I have a fantastic wife.”
Tom and Diane have enjoyed several Starr bus tours, one throughout the South and one through New England.
“Exploring the South — Savannah, Charleston, that whole area — we loved that trip,” he says. “And in New England, we did Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Those trips to see different parts of the country have been great trips. I love the history.”
They have one daughter, Rachel, a speech pathologist. She and her husband Jesse, an anesthesiologist at Penn, gave Tom and Diane their first grandchild, Harry, a month ago.
“He’s our new adventure,“ Tom says. “Jesse is taking some time off, and they’re coming down next week.”
Tom credits Jesse, a homebrewer, with getting him interested in craft beer. Over the past eight years or so, summer vacations with the family were always to Cape May, and they’d be sure to make a trip to the brewery.
“When we came down on vacations,” he says, “we’d buy Cape May brews when we came down here.”
After retiring in 2016, Tom was working at Rowan as an adjunct professor and student teacher supervisor, and wife Diane was still at her job at a printer in Glassboro. During their several trips down, Tom and Diane fell in love with Cape May.
“When we were living in Gloucester County,” he says, “we could get down here in an hour-and-a-half, so on weekends we’d come down and sit on the beach. We said, ‘This would be a great place to live!’ The people were always so nice.”
They’d originally looked in Cape May to retire, but one of their realtors suggested West Cape May.
“We didn’t even know where West Cape May was!” Tom laughs. “Once we got into the nuances of West Cape May, it had more to offer for year-round living. It’s so pretty. When the horses go to town, they go right by our house. We’re still close to everything, so it had everything to offer. And there’s a lot to do over the winter. More than people think.”
Tom’s been enjoying doing the yardwork at the new house.
“I’m one of the few guys that keeps a really nice lawn,” he says. “And I put in a garden this year during the pandemic. I put in tomatoes and peppers and some scallions in. Working in a suit and tie all day as a school administrator, I always loved coming home and cutting the lawn on the angle. I kinda like having the best lawn in the neighborhood.”
“I waited in a long line for it — got a whole case of it,” Tom recalls, “and I got talking to Marie. She was saying what a great place it is to work, and she was so nice. I was saying, ‘Well, I’m not the youngest guy in the world,’ and she laughed, saying, ‘Well, you’re about the same age as I am!’”
When they’d moved down here, Tom got a job as a substitute teacher in a few of the elementary schools in the area. He was working both jobs — here and at the schools — when COVID hit.
“I still love the children,” he says. “I still love education, but I’m not sure if I want to go back in the fall. I think I’ll stick with the brewery.”
Tom’s not necessarily interested in beertending, but he likes the other aspects of working in the Tasting Room.
“I’d love to start giving the tours when they start up again,” he says, “but I like greeting, interacting with people. I like the customer relations part. I love to tell jokes to the people in line — I’ve got to entertain them somehow so they don’t get restless while they social distance.”
He also likes recommending beers to folks as they come in.
“The rewarding part is when they come back and thank me for the recommendation,” he says. “With my education background, I like that part of the job.”
Tom is looking forward to the continued relationships with our visitors and the Brew Crew members in the Tasting Room.
“I also love to see how a business like this is run,” he says. “It’s not that much different from a school district, believe it or not. There are a lot of commonalities. When I read about the founders’ values, they really matched my own values. Our Core Values are a lot of the values we live with as school administrators.”
And Tom really likes working with the Brew Crew.
“I call them ‘young kids’ — the beertenders are all half my age –, but everyone’s a hard worker there,” he says.
Tom is pretty blown away by our growth over the past nine years, and he’s impressed with the variety of beers we offer.
“It’s always evolving,” he says. “I always like change. As a school administrator and a teacher, I was always one who welcomed change. The only thing about change is that it’s always going to be constant, so, if one of the managers comes up to me and says, ‘Can we try it this way?’ I say, ‘Sure!’ Particularly now, our procedures are constantly evolving.”
Opening the Brewtanical Garden has given our Greeters one more thing to explain to our visitors.
“Walking people out to the Brewtanical Garden, showing them where it is,” he says. “Little things like that. We’re always evolving. I think our visitors generally appreciate it. Other than people not liking the wait, I tell them that it’s because we have a great product. I don’t know anywhere that’s got better tasting beer or a bigger selection.”
As you might imagine, Tom is a big fan of nearly everything we brew.
“I’ve always been a fan of the shandies, and I love Belgian wits,” he says. “So Cape May White is up there — on a day that I feel daring, I’ll have a Devil’s Reach — and I think they’re tied with Tan Limes. I had it with Mexican food, and it brings on new life there. And Crushin’ It is my third favorite.”
Be sure to say hello to Tom the next time you see him in the Tasting Room. And make sure you get a joke out of him.