When Collin Zreet and Samantha Glenn were placed on the same ultimate frisbee team in Dallas, they didn’t expect to go into business together and start their own brewery. It all started with mutual friendship and a love for beer.
“I just happened to realize that he had gone to high school with one of the friends I was home brewing with,” Glenn said. “He was also home brewing and so we kind of all started home brewing together. So that’s kind of how it got started.”
Since they started brewing in their friends’ garage together in 2012, they’ve been active in the brewing industry. Now, Glenn, 37 and Zreet, 35, run Funky Picnic Brewery & Cafe together at 401 Bryan Ave. in Southside.
Glenn holds a leadership position in the Texas Craft Brewers Guild’s diversity, equity and inclusion subcommittee, while Zreet helps with the logistics of the guild’s competitions. Meg Ellis, membership and business development manager for the Texas Craft Brewer Guild, said Glenn was instrumental in organizing a craft beer career fair in Grapevine.
“They’re not shy to take the lead and really … stick their neck out for the things that they care about,” Ellis said.
Zreet and Glenn balanced all of this while working as engineers. Zreet works at Bell Helicopter and Glenn worked at Alcon. Together, they use their engineering skill sets to cultivate community in the small business and craft brewery scene in Fort Worth.
Brewing in a garage
Glenn and Zreet’s passion for brewing started at different times. For Zreet, it was when he was earning his degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, where the craft brewery scene was taking off.
“Breweries were opening up left and right down there,” Zreet said. “I had several friends that were home brewing. Even my pastor at church was a home brewer.”
Glenn was introduced to the world of brewing when she visited a San Francisco brewpub and got to see how the beer was made. She started brewing with her friends Jenni Hanley and John Koch out of a garage. Koch knew Glenn from playing kickball together, and Hanley knew Zreet from high school.
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Upon finding out they had mutual friends and interest in brewing, they all started brewing together.
“It was really cool to see everyone’s different knowledge,” Hanley said. “Collin, on his own, had been brewing different types of recipes than the ones that we had started. And so we were able to kind of share that knowledge.”
Together, they entered in homebrew competitions, had sleepovers for brainstorm sessions and came up with beer names based on pop culture and the shows they were watching, Koch said.
While brewing, they kept facing a question: Could they turn their hobby into a business?
“That nagging feeling that we should do it never really left,” Glenn said.
Zreet said he always had the idea of starting a brewery. He grew up with a lot of entrepreneurs in his family — his mother runs an interior design firm out of her house. He learned the ins and outs of business plans while earning a master’s in Business Administration at the University of Texas at Dallas.
For a week, they drafted and redrafted a business plan. In 2019, they opened their location in the Near Southside neighborhood. Glenn and Zreet said their engineering backgrounds came in handy while operating their business.
Zreet handles the logistics and finances of ordering helicopter parts at Bell, which helps him with managing the numbers of running a small business. Glenn, who worked as a principal engineer at Alcon, managed research and development for implantable eye products.
“Dealing with (Federal Drug Administration) audits is kind of like a health inspection, just on a larger scale,” Glenn said.
Brewing business and community
Before they even came up with the name Funky Picnic, Zreet and Glenn were out supporting their brewing community, Hanley said. Glenn volunteered at Martin House Brewing Company in Fort Worth, and Zreet volunteered at Peticolas Brewing Company in Dallas. They posted about other people’s success on social media. They’d do whatever they could to lift others up, Hanley said.
“When you show that support for other people, they show it for you,” Hanley said. “That’s something they’ve always been great about.”
During the pandemic, Glenn had to pick up her job at Alcon again, working 20 to 30 hours a week and about 60 hours a week at the brewery. While at the brewery, she waits tables and completes daily tasks like training staff or building a margarita machine. She sometimes needs a break from the long work hours, but loves her job.
Still, someone can often find them at a community meeting or volunteering, said Megan Henderson, director of events and communications at Near Southside, Inc. Funky Picnic was an early addition to the business community, and always the first to volunteer or give a donation.
“I think that type of leadership is really in our neighborhood a lot about showing up and building face time,” Henderson said. “And the two of them are just phenomenal at it.”
That support is important, Glenn said. The pandemic has hit businesses hard. Three businesses have closed in the area recently.
“We’re not successful unless everybody else around here is successful,” Glenn said. “Rather than being in competition with each other, like how can we help each other out? If you have people that are going out to eat three times a week, they’re not going to go to that same place every time.”
Collin Zreet profile
Birthplace: Dallas, Texas
Moved to Fort Worth: June 2020
Family: Wife (Taylor Zreet), son (Alder Zreet), parents (Allan and Cheryl Zreet, live in Dallas), sister (Rachael Wright, lives in Houston)
Education: Bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering (2009, University of Texas), MBA (2016, University of Texas at Dallas), master’s degree in innovation and entrepreneurship (2016, University of Texas at Dallas)
Work experience: 12+ years at Bell in various roles as an engineer and business analyst on both military and commercial programs
Volunteer experience: Various charities and nonprofits, but most recently at Taste Project (Fort Worth) and Bonton Farms (Dallas)
First job: Mowing neighborhood lawns during the summers as a teenager for my first “business”
Advice for someone learning to be a leader: It’s not about you; it’s about your team.
Best advice ever received: “Always ask how you can help” from my dad.
Samantha Glenn profile
Birthplace: Denton, TX
Moved to Fort Worth: June 2008
Family: Taco, a 9-year-old blue heeler/husky mix
Education: Bachelors in biomedical eEngineering, Texas A&M University, 2007; master’s in biomedical engineering, University of Texas at Arlington, 2012
Work experience: Engineer at Alcon Laboratories, Fort Worth from 2008-2019
Volunteer experience: Big Brothers Big Sisters 2012-2018
First job: Stall cleaner at Parlier show horses
Advice for someone learning to be a leader: You work for the people who follow you, not the other way around.
Best advice ever received: Never stop learning.
Seth Bodine is a business and economic development reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @sbodine120.