For Allaina Propst being a local means being “willing to understand what a community is.” That wisdom is not so much a reflection of her age— she is only 25 years old— but of the time she has devoted to a corner of Wayne County, PA that is dear to her. She was born in Beach Lake, a town of about 2500, and raised, by example, to give back. Her grandfather, Dr. Harry Propst, spent five decades caring for his community, much of it as chief of staff at Wayne Memorial Hospital. He offered his surgical skills to anyone who needed them, regardless of their station in life. Propst’s parents were similarly devoted to the area, serving on school and hospital boards in addition to owning a sawmill in Archbald.
The family compound at Beach Lake, populated by many cousins, mostly boys, provided Propst with a storybook childhood, one of carefree running around in the woods. “I was a boy growing up,” she joked. “having stick fights with my cousins.” She was also a keen student of finance, avidly watching business television shows with her entrepreneurial father. In high school, she was a star athlete, applied her interest in science to brewing beer and organized her prom. At Bryn Mawr college, she was no less busy, majoring in economics and Middle East Studies, playing basketball, and interning at Goldman Sachs.
Propst was on track to be a big city titan. A job at Goldman Sachs was followed by work at other venture capitalist firms, including Golden Seeds, an investment firm focused on women-led businesses, in a field where, as Propst points out, “89% of CEO positions are held by males.” Office life, however, was not all she wanted or thought it was going to be.
The summer of 2012 was the turning point. Propst’s temporary return to Honesdale, to work as Project Coordinator for the non-profit The Cooperage Project, shifted to a permanent reorientation. “The Cooperage is a good anchor to what is happening in this community,” she says. “It’s giving people a place to meet and share thoughts.” It prompted her to examine her own and decide that it was home where she found the opportunity she desired. All of her skills are now being channeled into The Here & Now Brewing Company which will be housed on the corner of a stretch of handsome brick buildings on Honesdale’s Main Street that was once home to a Woolworth Five and Dime.
“People are afraid of changing the area too much. But you can change and still stay attached to your roots.
Propst wants to restore the building, stripping away its ‘70s veneer to return it to the “Boardwalk Empire” look of its glory days. Here & Now, on the ground floor, will be a brew café that crafts local and seasonal beers to be accompanied by creatively simple and well-prepared foods. She hopes to turn the second floor into a boutique hotel. Propst, along with her team of Karl Schloesser and Steven Propst, plan to open the doors in early 2016. “People are afraid of changing the area too much,” she says. “But you can change and still stay attached to your roots.” Especially when you have such a deep understanding of them, because they are your own.