Josh “Loyal” Grigaitis lives and breathes nightlife. The longtime Hill resident – whose nickname is a nod to his Loyal Family events business – formerly ran 2720 Cherokee, the music venue that brought James Murphy, Ghostface Killah, and others to town, and his family owns the bar Pop’s Blue Moon.
For years, his social life was one happy hour after the next, and his work calendar was filled with meetings with liquor reps. “Alcohol isn’t everywhere,” he says. “But it was everywhere that I was.”
Feeling increasingly burned out, he knew something had to change. So on the first day of 2017, Loyal began a “social experiment,” only drinking alcohol while on vacation. His “no booze in the Lou” rule gave him more time to do what he wanted. He also started helping others rethink their relationships to alcohol in 2018 by hosting NA nights at Pop’s Blue Moon. NA as in “non alcoholic.”
A novel concept for a bar, and on Saturday nights, at that! St. Lunacy was intrigued. We also heard Loyal used to drive around with a jet pack strapped to his truck. And so we dropped by Pop’s for some answers.
St. Lunacy: Tell us about booze-free Saturdays at Pop’s Blue Moon.
Loyal: We started it as a one night thing. And then we were like, let's do this every Saturday for a month. By the third one, we were like, holy shit, wow, we're going to do this for longer. This is interesting.
What were the vibes like on those Saturdays?
It was no different, other than the lack of that obnoxious guy. There were a lot of people who had been looking to get out, and they were like, ‘This is so cool.’ Those people brought with them a lot of friends.
Booze-free Saturdays are no longer happening, though, right? What happened?
COVID happened. We were like, let's give it a break for a while and just survive. It would be too much to be restricting Saturdays to just the one thing. On Saturdays, if you want to come here, come here. We got a bunch of NA, we got alcohol. We're open.
That whole vibe of a dive bar for drunks is not the future.
We just launched Cheerz. With a Z. It’s a lifestyle brand that will have beverages as its main focus. It's obviously a play on Cheers [the TV show]. But Cheerz to me is the NA alternative to Cheers.
What does this all have to do with the jetpack that used to be strapped to the top of your truck?
Bringing alcohol-free options to the table makes everyone stop and think, which I just love. For years I drove around in my Toyota Tacoma with a jetpack sharkfin thing on the top of it. That made people think. They saw it and were like, “What the hell is that?”