Fifteen months have passed since Matt Coben first stood within the empty space of the Loray Mill where he confidently planned to open a microbrew pub in the late summer of 2016.
The time requirements and mental fortitude required for redeveloping the interior of a historic textile mill for such an ultra-modern use have certainly sunk in since then. But far from tapping out on his vision, Coben has simply been resolutely chipping away, and said he now has a realistic opening date in view for Growler USA.
“We figure we’ll be in here training staff with plans to for a soft opening in mid-July, and we hope to open to everyone Aug. 1,” he said during a walkthrough of the pub Tuesday. “At the end of the day, it’s a historic project. It needs the TLC to be done properly. But we feel great about where we are now.”
Coben opened his first Growler USA in southeast Charlotte last year, offering a twist on the standard brewery and the traditional pub. The concept shuns bottled beer and puts a premium on stocking fresh kegs filled with a wide variety of high-quality microbrews.
Growler USA will have 100 taps, with 90 devoted to authentic craft beer. Ten to 15 of the microbrews will be “hyperlocal,” while the other selections will be from specific regions around the country.
Sealed growlers — a popular term for glass jugs full of beer — will also be available to order and carry out.
Coben’s efforts to open his second Growler USA franchise here had creeped to a near halt a few months ago. That was due in part to challenges such as carefully cleaning historic brick walls, and installing heating and air conditioning and sprinklers within the 4,000-square-foot space that he has leased. But those HVAC and fire suppression systems are now all in place and working, as are lighting fixtures throughout the pub.
The gigantic cooler that will house all the kegs to fill the 100 taps is getting the finishing touches, with snake-like hoses already dangling from its walls. On the other side of the foundation, the spouts for the taps are all lined up at attention, ready to go to work behind the expansive bar.
“We’re about two to three weeks from the contractor being out of the way,” he said. “We’ll finish up with plumbing and electric, and get the floors sealed with clear coat. Then we can come in and put together tables and chairs.”
One of the most unique features within the pub will be an industrial scale that the Firestone Mill once used in its maintenance shop to weigh heavy, incoming bales of cotton. The mill owners agreed to let Coben relocate it, and they cut a square out of the concrete floor where the heavy device is now nestled, ready to weigh parties of multiple people – up to 1,000 total pounds.
“How cool is it to have that in the bar?” said Joe Linehan, a managing partner of Loray Mill Redevelopment, which owns the mill.
Coben said another incentive for opening before the summer ends will be to take advantage of the pub’s close proximity to the Loray Mill Loft Apartments pool. Glass isn’t allowed around the swimming area, but that’s where the pub’s plastic growlers will come in handy.
“If you tell us you want something, we’ll figure out a way to bring it to you by the pool,” he said.
View Michael Barrett’s original piece in the Gaston Gazette.
You can reach Michael Barrett at 704-869-1826 or on Twitter @GazetteMike