Debbie Brown of Prison Brews and DJ Drury of Canterbury Hill Winery and Restaurant have challenged each other to a summer-long duel. But in this case, it’s a friendly battle that’s been in the works for some time, the result of much conversation between two business owners whose similar endeavors in the world of restaurants have blossomed into a friendship.
Whether enjoying an ice-cold pint of Prison Town Brown beer at Prison Brews or slowly sipping a glass of Medieval Mist at The Hill, Brown and Drury have had many conversations on how their businesses could collaborate to tap into a new customer base while promoting each other. Then they came up with an idea for some unique summertime fun and excitedly got to work designing a logo, picking dates and preparing marketing materials.
Wine vs. Beer, a series of six dueling piano performances, officially kicked of at Thursday Night Live on June 5, when two piano players took to the ivories to entertain the crowd during an energy-filled, laugh-inducing and interactive performance. As is typical with dueling piano performances, sliding dollar bills onto the piano is how audience members request to hear a favorite song — or request to stop a song that’s already in progress. On this night, the dueling piano concept, popular in cities around Missouri and the country, made its Jefferson City debut.
“We were discussing Jefferson City entertainment options and the many good bands that we both use but were brainstorming for something new and exciting that we could bring to this area,” Drury says. “This type of entertainment is offered in Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis, Springfield and even the lake, so why not Jefferson City?”
From June through September, Prisons Brews and The Hill will alternate as hosts of dueling piano events. In addition to great family fun, attendees will be able to enjoy beers such as Maximum Sentence IPA or Reformatory Rye Stout or wines including Canterbury’s Tale or White Knight at either venue. Although dueling piano performances can often be racy or rated R, the Wine vs. Beer events will be suitable for all audiences.
“We truly hope the public grabs onto this concept,” Drury says. “Our shows will be high energy, classy and always reflective of the respect that we hold for our valuable clients and their families, friends and co-workers.”
In addition to pumping some new life into Jefferson City’s entertainment scene, Drury and Brown are also interested in changing the perception that business owners are only in it for themselves. Because life as a small-business owner — and especially as a restaurant owner — is challenging, the pair has a true desire to see their friend’s business grow and succeed.
“We have a true partnership, and we get along really well, so we thought we’d try to help each other out,” Brown says. “We have the same type of business, but we’re not competing against each other. We’re both here to support each other and make people a little more aware of our products.”
Events are currently scheduled through September, but Brown says she and Drury are both open to the idea of cohosting other events in the future while continuing to cross-promote their brands.
Performances are scheduled for June 20, July 18, Aug. 15 and Sept. 19 at The Hill and July 17 and Sept. 18 at Prison Brews. Event T-shirts are now on sale for $13 each. Those who wear an event shirt to the Wine vs. Beer events will save 50 percent on the $5 cover charge.