Town & Country Shell has beer on tap along with fresh fried chicken
By Scott Unger
Rarely would a gas station be considered a hot spot for lunch or happy hour, but Town & Country Shell owner Andy Elshire is changing that perception with his “one-stop shop” that features craft beer, wine and fried chicken that was voted the best in Dayton.
Elshire completely renovated the store at 3960 Far Hills Ave. in 2013, increasing the floor plan from 700 square feet to approximately 4,000 square feet and adding features ever since.
Offering craft beer has been central to the store’s transformation, with 16 taps installed in 2016 that highlight Dayton and Ohio breweries. Customers can sample the selections through flights of four-ounce pours or take home their favorite for later in 32- or 64-ounce growlers.
Elshire’s store was the first in Dayton to use the Pegas CrafTap, a pouring system that fills a growler with carbon dioxide before the beer flows in, eliminating oxygen from the bottle and preserving the contents for much longer than pouring from a tap.
“I’ve had a growler I opened up six months later and it tasted like I just poured it,” Elshire says.
Customers routinely come in to sample new offerings and take home growlers from local breweries such as Warped Wing, Yellow Springs and the Dayton Beer Company, according to Elshire.
“The craft scene in Dayton is just crazy,” he says. “Ever since (the Pegas was installed), it’s gone gangbusters.”
Next to the taps, customers can buy Lafayette, Louisiana-based Krispy Krunchy Chicken, which is often incorporated in the store’s special events.
During tap takeovers, which regularly draw more than 50 customers, the chicken is infused with selected beer flavors by replacing water with beer in the frying process. Beer is used in other areas of cooking as well, such as a Warped Wing Oatmeal Stout barbecue sauce Elshire made for an event.
Asked if the beer flavor comes through Elshire quickly responds, “Oh yeah.”
The store also features an extensive collection of wine and a walk-in cooler offering more than 100 different beer types with a continued emphasis on local brews. Because the store has the proper license, customers can grab a beer from the cooler and drink it right in the store, Elshire says.
Store manager Drew Ackley is in charge of what beers are stocked and says he regularly fills requests for specific crafts suggested by patrons.
“We try to have a little more interaction with our customers, get their feedback,” Ackley says. “Nine times out of 10 if a customer asks for it we’ll bring it in.”
The special attention to customers’ needs has resulted in a base of regulars who regularly stop in for a meal or a cold beer, Elshire says. “People like to come in here for a relaxing lunch or happy hour. They know the employees, the employees know them,” he says. “I just think the atmosphere here is second to none.”