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What Ales You? Focusing on the craft-beer niche helped this pub thrive while others dried up.

By John W. Ellis IV

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When the craft-beer industry experienced a shakeout in the late1990s, microbrewing experts Vic Gumper and Daniel Rogers decidedspecialty-beer drinkers needed a place to go for the increasinglyhard-to-find craft brews they loved.

In 1998, Gumper and Rogers, both 35, left a failing microbreweryto pour their expertise (and $150,000) into LanesplitterPizza & Pub. Their marketing secret: The niche restaurantserves unique beers made only in California. The daily menu attheir original location in Berkeley, California, boasts 20different brews, which are rotated often. Customers rave about thefreshness of the beers on tap, and the unique mix gives therestaurant an edge over pubs serving big-label beers. They alsooffer award-winning pizza at a low price. Lanesplitter's threelocations served up $2 million in 2005 sales. "We want toexceed our customers' expectations," says Gumper."That way, they keep coming back."

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