Dray: Mixing Products and People– No Alcohol Required
By Erin Trauth
Boston is a place of firsts – the nation’s first public park, first public garden, and first subway system, among so many other milestones. With a long and storied history, blended in now with a landscape of innovative businesses and technological advances pushing the city into the future, Boston has seen it all throughout its nearly 400 years of innovation. In being a hub for firsts, and having seen so much growth and innovation over time, it's now pretty rare for something to be a first for Boston. But Dray– a new non-alcoholic bottle shop and community hub – can proudly boast this accolade. While Boston’s buzzing restaurant, bar, and bottle shop scene does offer some options for non-imbibers, these options are still usually few in numbers and sometimes feel like what can seem like an afterthought– something to add to a menu or to a traditional bottle shop to please those in the crowd who might be joining others or looking for something non-alcoholic that’s not just a water or soda. Dray, located in the heart of the bustling and trendy South End, aims to not only create a space for people abstaining or reducing their alcoholic intake, but also create a thriving community where those who might sometimes feel like an afterthought in other spaces can gather, embrace the vast array of exciting, refreshing, and delicious non-alcoholic drinks available in today’s market, and find community all at the same time. And it’s the first spot of its kind in Boston – while other larger cities such as New York City and Chicago are home to at least one purely non-alcoholic bottle shop, no such place has yet existed in Boston.
Pat Dooling, Dray Founder and CEO, sees Dray not only as a first for Boston but also as a space with many varied purposes. Pat, a lifelong businessperson with a background in business management, private equity, and real estate, began his own journey to non-alcoholic options in 2021. “In quitting drinking, I learned a lot about the importance of community in alcohol recovery or just reducing your intake, for whatever reason. I also learned how many great non-alcoholic products there are on the market – products that taste great and don’t make you feel like you’re missing out by not drinking alcohol. For me, Dray is a chance to put these products and the people who need and want more community around them together in one welcoming space.”
Pat and his family – wife Brenna and their two children – have called the South End their home for more than 15 years. “When we came up with the idea to start Dray, we began looking for a space for the bottle shop in many open spots all around Boston. We looked at 80 places! But when we finally realized there was an open spot right here in the South End, the place we call home, we knew instantly that it was right. The South End is the neighborhood for a place like Dray to start. Here, we have great diversity, such an eclectic mix of people and businesses, and we are also known for the boutique, community feel we want Dray to offer people when they come in the door to try something new.” Adding to Pat and Brenna’s ties and commitment to the South End is the fact that they plan to give back to the community from day one of opening the business: a portion of all proceeds will go directly back into the South End and greater Boston community non-profit organizations, beginning with a focus on organizations aiding those in recovery.
Beyond offering an array of delicious drinks that taste just like traditional beer, wine, and spirits– along with many drinks that have unique and new flavors in their own rights – Dray aims to become a community hub and will hold tastings, community events, and host pop-ups and partnerships at many upcoming South End and greater Boston markets and gatherings. “We know so many people are eager for a place like Dray, and we don’t plan to stop here,” Pat says. “We want Dray to help people build community, and we want to impact the city of Boston in positive ways.”
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been sober for years, if you’re in recovery, if you’re cutting down on drinking for health or other reasons, or if you just want to try something new. Dray is for everyone, and we welcome you wherever you are in your journey. Be sure to stop in for your first taste of Dray starting on November 17th. We can’t wait to see you there!