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Brewed with Pride: Celebrating 2SLGBTQ+ entrepreneurs

Urban Growler Brewing Company feels like one of those special places where everybody knows your name.

Urban Growler is located in the bustling Creative Enterprise Zone of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Owners Deb Loch and Jill Pavlak left their corporate jobs to open a taproom and kitchen, which became become known for its signature hops and great atmosphere. When they opened their doors in 2014, they were Minnesota’s first woman-owned microbrewery. 

“I’d owned a couple of small businesses before, and really missed having my own business,” Jill said. “Deb and I wanted to open this business together – to take that leap of faith to extend our life partnership into a business partnership.”  

Running their business as a married couple has its own set of challenges. 

“There’d be days I’d want to go home and vent about this person I’m working with – but the person I want to talk about is the person I live with. There she’d be, standing in our kitchen,” Jill said. 

Getting start-up funding was an initial challenge, which they navigated creatively. Hundreds of community members crowdsourced $500,000 to help bring Deb and Jill’s vision to life. The community also pulled together during the pandemic, helping keep the business afloat with carry-out and delivery orders.  

Next year, Urban Growler will celebrate 10 years in business, and they want to keep on innovating. With Deb as master brewer and Jill running operations, they are focused on building a legacy. 

“We are venturing into other great-tasting beverages. We’re developing a new brand of seltzers called Lucky Day, plus new THC-infused and non-alcoholic beverages. We have a goal to grow distribution statewide by 2030.” 

– Deb Loch
Co-owner, Urban Growler Brewing Company

They plan to grow by staying true to their mission – to bring people together through beer.  

“We’ve always tried to connect with people. We have more in common than what divides us. Inclusivity is built into our customer experience – from the taproom decor to the team we hire to creating a space where everyone feels welcome.”  

– Jill Pavlak
Co-owner, Urban Growler Brewing Company

It’s a key reason that members of the BMO Pride employee resource group gathered at Urban Growler to kick off Pride Month. BMO Pride is volunteer-led with more than 2,000 members – employees who identify within the 2SLGBTQ+ community and allies – enterprise-wide.

Like Urban Growler, BMO’s core values of inclusion, respect and equity guide our interactions with customers, colleagues and communities.  

BMO is proud to recognize the valuable contributions of 2SLGBTQ+ members of our community, and we reaffirm our commitment to an inclusive society where all are welcome. 

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