Sipping Sober: Inside Nashville’s First Booze-Free Beverage Shop, Killjoy

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This conversation is part of the “Meet Nashville” series
exclusive interviews with local Nashville bars, restaurants, hotels, attractions & more owners.

When I saw that a non-alcoholic beverage shop was opening in Nashville, it caught my attention, to say the least.

There's a growing population of adults like me who are giving up drinking for health reasons. I gave it up because as I entered my 40s, there was no longer any upside. If I want to get up early to workout or spend quality time with my kids, I want to feel my best.

There's also a growing realization that even a small amount of alcohol is bad for you.

The tale of Killjoy takes on a poignant note, especially in light of the recent news spotlighting Nashville's prevalent drinking and partying culture.

So it's with great pleasure that I got to interview Stephanie from Killjoy, a business in Nashville serving exclusively non-alcoholic drinks in a way that is far from boring. She has a great story about her journey opening Nashville's first booze-free beverage shop.

So, without further ado, here’s a Nashville To Do interview with Stephanie Styll of Killjoy!

🔗 Business Information
🔗Interview with owner
🔗Behind the scenes

Business Information

Name: Killjoy

Owners: Stephanie Styll & John Caldwell.

Address: 2020 Lindell Ave, Nashville, TN (enter at the Crumbly Corner Cafe, we're hidden inside the gallery).

Pet Policy: Pets are allowed.

Description: A specialty beverage shop selling alcohol-free beer, wine, spirits, and mixers.

Highlights: Killjoy is Nashville's first alcohol-free beverage shop that emphasizes community building, health, and inclusive fun through a wide range of alcohol-free products and social events.

Interview with the Owner

Exclusive Nashville To Do interview with Stephanie Styll, owner of Killjoy located in Nashville, Tennessee —

Interview Date:

May 11, 2024

Hello! Tell us a little about yourself.

After growing up in Nashville and studying Psychology at MTSU, I moved overseas where I lived for 13 years while helping US Service Members get college degrees. During that time, I visited 53 countries, competed in the German roller derby championships, got my Master's degree in Human Relations, and went to India to get certified as a yoga teacher. 

After moving back to Nashville, hiking the whole Appalachian Trail, and working at Hands On Nashville for several years, I started my own business called Killjoy – Nashville's first and only booze-free beverage shop!

I am passionate about creating community and helping people experience vibrant health through an alcohol-free lifestyle. 

What inspired the creation of Nashville's first booze-free beverage shop, and how did your personal experiences influence this venture?

I always enjoyed drinking socially, but like most of us, during the pandemic my drinking ramped up and was really not helping me live my best life. 

Long story short, I quit booze completely on my 40th birthday, and it’s been amazing for my mental and physical health, as well as my relationships. 

But, socializing while just drinking water or soda made me feel childish and left out. And it turned out I wasn’t alone. There was a booming alcohol alternative industry that I was so excited to learn about. 

I became passionate about nonalcoholic beverages, but the only places to find them in Nashville were liquor stores, and each one only carried a couple of types. If you're trying not to drink, I don't recommend driving to every liquor store in town to quench your thirst. 

The other option was to buy things online, and this was daunting for me because the products were so new and unknown! 

I kept wishing there could be a completely alcohol-free shop that had friendly and knowledgeable staff to help me select the right drinks, educate me about them, and even let me taste them, so that's exactly what I created. 

On April 1, 2023, I opened Killjoy: a brick-and-mortar shop that sells beer, wines, spirits, and functional beverages – all completely alcohol-free!! We also host events like trivia, karaoke, book clubs, and wine tastings. 

This was a crazy leap for me, but it's been absolutely wonderful. One of the things I am most proud of is the community that is building and growing and how we are changing the culture. We are making it cool to not drink, cool to care about your own wellness, and cool to learn how to have a good time just being weird and fun and not needing a crutch. 

Why did you choose Nashville for your store? 

It's my home!

How do you select the alcohol-free products featured at Killjoy?

I scour the internet and order samples of every beverage I can find. If I love it, I order it for the shop. Sometimes customers ask for things they love, and we carry those too. We also order lots of seasonal beers to keep things fresh and interesting for our customers.

What are some of the biggest challenges and rewards of running an alcohol-free beverage shop in Nashville?

One of the biggest challenges I have faced is a common one for new entrepreneurs: finding work/life balance or integration. I love this work, but it can creep into every nook and cranny of my life if I'm not vigilant. Setting boundaries and allowing myself ample time to rest and recover is a work in progress. 

The most rewarding part is interacting with the customers, hands down. The people who come into the shop are the best, and so many of them offer words of kindness and support. I honestly thought I would get a lot of trolls when we started, and people have been so encouraging and kind. If you’re ever feeling down, come hang out in the shop for an hour. You’ll meet people that are inspiring, working on themselves, and doing cool shit. 

I also LOVE It when I see real relationships and connections forming amongst these beautiful people. I dreamed of a booze-free community and it’s really happening! 

What are you most excited about right now with your business?

Community building! We are in the process of creating a dedicated bar space and I know it’s something that is so needed in Nashville. We want people to always have a place to go where they don't have to worry about the temptation of booze, or being surrounded by loads of drunk people. We want it to feel fun and social and have tons of amazing drink options. Whether you just don’t want to drink on a first date, or want an inclusive space to hang out with your coworkers, Killjoy Bar will be perfect setting! 

Nashville is a big drinking town. How do you plan to navigate the competitive landscape, particularly with traditional bars and liquor stores?

I don’t consider those my competition at all. People come to us because we are different. People are looking for something deeper, something that aligns with their goals, and something real. 

Could you share more about the types of events Killjoy caters to?

We have hosted over 75 events with around 1800 attendees by my calculations! We have done hikes, book clubs, trivia, wine tastings, mixology, bingo, and more. This month we’re teaming up with some local businesses to do events with cold plunges, breathwork, tacos, and tastings. We’re hosting our first comedy night and also having an astrology-themed cocktail party. Basically, if it’s fun and we’ve got great partners, we’ll try it! 

We also want to make it easy for people to taste and learn about new beverages at all our events. 

Can you share a memorable story about a customer or event?

Chris Marshall is famous in the NA community because he started Sans Bar, the first non-alcoholic bar in the US. I had been following him on IG for years, as well as a fabulous lady named Mocktail Mom that lives in Kentucky.

Last September, Chris came to Killjoy and hosted a karaoke party and Mocktail Mom came too! Number one, it was surreal to meet them both and party with them. Number two, I sang karaoke sober for the first time, which was SO scary! I have a major complex about my singing voice that feels like a metaphor for asserting myself in the world. But I FREAKING DID IT! And afterward, I’m not even joking, I think 5 people told me I had a lovely voice, which was shocking to me because I think my voice is awful. But again, there is this metaphor of me being afraid to put myself out into the world, and people seeing me – the real me – and supporting it. It was such a powerful evening. 

What does the future hold?

We hope to expand to a second location that will have a dedicated bar within the next year. Our sights are on East Nashville!

Where can we go to learn more?

Behind the Scenes

Alex Hawker

Hey. I’m Alex. I'm the founder and writer here at Nashville To Do. I've been living in and writing about Nashville for over a decade now, and I'm excited to share all I've learned! Learn more about me here.

Alex Hawker

Hey. I’m Alex. I'm the founder and writer here at Nashville To Do. I've been living in and writing about Nashville for over a decade now, and I'm excited to share all I've learned! Learn more about me here.

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