A craft beer business in Asheville plans to expand its operations into Old Fort by opening a brewery and a restaurant in a section of the Parker Hosiery building and create 30 new jobs.
Hillman Beer is a small, family-owned business located on Sweeten Creek Road near Biltmore Village in Asheville. On Friday, the craft brewery announced on social media that it plans to open a second location in Old Fort.
“From the Village to the Fort, here we come!!” read the post on Facebook.
This brewery is owned and operated by brothers Brad and Greig Hillman, and Greig's wife Brandi Hillman. They have worked together “to bring the pub style back to the brewery experience,” according to their website.
“With an emphasis on quality beer and a focus on classics and comfort, we hope that our beer and pub atmosphere keep you coming back to Hillman Beer,” reads their site.
Co-owner Greig Hillman talked by email with The McDowell News about his brewery’s plans for Old Fort.
“We are very excited to be opening our second location in the Parker Hosiery building at 78 Catawba Ave. in Old Fort,” he said.
He added that he hopes the second location to be open by the spring or summer of 2020.
“We will be a full restaurant and brewery with 18-plus varieties of our beer, something for every taste, as well as a selection of the traditional non-alcoholic beverages, tea, soda, etc.,” he said to The McDowell News.
Hillman Beer will brew its craft beverages at this location in a 15-barrel system with 30 barrel fermenters. Like other craft breweries, Hillman will make and serve such varieties as kolsch, IPA, porter, stout, amber lager and Hefeweizen.
“It will serve a production facility to help support our Biltmore Village location as well our increasing distribution to area restaurants,” said Greig Hillman to The McDowell News.
In other words, some of the beer brewed in Old Fort will be served in Asheville and other western North Carolina businesses as well as being served locally.
As for the restaurant, that is still being developed.
“We are building the menu now and expect seating capacity with over 200 with outdoor open air seating and indoor/outdoor bar space,” said Greig Hillman in an email.
The Old Fort location will be a family friendly and dog friendly venue, he added.
“We think this is going to be a very positive move for the town of Old Fort and have been receiving overwhelmingly positive responses from the community,” said Greig Hillman in his email. “It will bring new life to the town, its residents and other businesses. It is a $700,000 project that will bring about 30 jobs, part- and-full time, with health insurance and other benefits.”
Jeff Parker is the owner of the Parker Hosiery building and Mill Creek Properties. He worked with Hillman Beer about finding a second location in Old Fort for this brewery.
“It’s a huge win for Old Fort,” said Parker to The McDowell News.
He added the Hillmans have operated the Subway restaurant in Old Fort for four years now.
“They have been successful with other businesses,” said Parker. “Old Fort already knows these people.”
Parker added the Hillman family gives back to the communities where their businesses are located.
“They are also community minded,” he said. “They just don’t set up a business.”
Hillman Beer will make use of a section of the Parker Hosiery building and renovation work is already getting started. “We’ve already got a signed lease,” said Parker.
He said there will be an open air seating area where folks can enjoy the food and craft beer along the banks of Mill Creek.
Parker plans to give a presentation about this new business for the town during today’s Old Fort Board of Aldermen meeting starting at 5:30 p.m.
Since Friday morning, Hillman Beer’s post was shared 163 times and it resulted in numerous positive comments.
“Wow. If you have rack cards or business cards we’ll put them in the Art Gallery- just like we do for all the local businesses,” said Helen Sullivan of the Appalachian Artists and Artisans League on Hillman Beer’s Facebook.
“We are so excited! We own the Mountain Appalachian Inn on Main Street and can't wait to send our guests your way! Cheers!!” said Chuck and Becky Aldridge on Hillman Beer’s Facebook.
“Big congrats! Looking forward to being county neighbors,” said Jason Snyder of Mica Town Brewing on Facebook.
“Welcome!! We are business owners in Old Fort as well! And we come to Sweeten Creek quite often! So excited to have you!” said Beth Silver on Facebook.
“Welcome to Old Fort!” said the owners of the Inn on Mill Creek.
Parker said he is aware that town officials and some residents are not supportive of a brewery. But this became possible because of a new state law that takes effect Oct. 1.
Senate Bill 290 was signed into law by Gov. Roy Cooper. Part XXI states the owner of a brewery permit may “regardless of the results of any local malt beverage election, sell the malt beverages owned by the brewery at the brewery for on- or off-premise consumption…” The owner must obtain the appropriate permit from the state ABC Commission, which is based in Raleigh, according to the new state law.
For McDowell County, this means the town of Old Fort or any other community outside of Marion can legally have a brewery where its products will be served and sold, according a spokesperson for the state ABC Commission.
This part takes effect Oct. 1 and applies to other communities across North Carolina, whether they were considered dry or not. The N.C. ABC Commission does not consider McDowell to be a dry county, according to its website.