Javier Chávez, Jr. ’06 longed for a craft beer that would pair with his family’s Mexican food but couldn’t find one. For years, he brewed up ideas on nights and weekends, while he spent his days in commercial litigation with firms such as Duane Morris and Edward Jones Investments. Then, eleven years ago, he started experimenting with homebrew beer recipes in his spare time, and in 2017, he launched Cerveza Zólupez Beer Company.
“I was born and raised in the food and beverage business,” explains Chávez, who grew up working in his parents’ Mexican restaurant in Utah. “I couldn’t find an authentic Mexican craft beer in the US, so I decided to fill this gap.”
While Chávez is the founder and principal of Cerveza Zólupez, it’s clearly a family business. The brand was launched at his parents’ restaurants—there are now six locations in Utah—and his siblings help advise on finances and social media. Chávez says the secret to his company’s success is authenticity. “People are used to imported Mexican beers, but our beers have more richness and complexity. They’re accessible,” he says.
Today, Cerveza Zólupez, a certified Minority Business Enterprise, is sold in nine states and will soon expand to another ten states. It is available in small wine and beer stores as well as chains such as Walmart, Target, and Costco.
“People ask me, ‘Why did you leave the law for craft brewing?’” says Chávez, who earned a dual MBA and JD at Boston College. “The thing is, I never left. Alcohol distribution is a heavily regulated industry. So, I use my legal hat every day with compliance and regulatory issues, transactions, vendor agreements, and tax compliance, and I also still hang a shingle to help those in need. Every single element of my journey from day one has culminated in this.”