The Asheville area has seen taprooms added to such unexpected locations as grocery stores, an outdoor gear provider and a glassblowing studio. And in the past few years, gas stations have joined the list of popular spots to enjoy a mix of local and nationally distributed draft beer, perhaps none more so than The Brew Pump in West Asheville.
“We have the ability to make it like your backyard. It’s more like being at your neighborhood friend’s house than a bar. We’ve got the cornhole boards, picnic tables and good cheap beer on draft,” says Brew Pump General Manager Mason Corn. “It works well, especially for the neighborhood we’re in. I don’t know if it would work in most places, but it works really well along Haywood Road.”
Serving the neighbors likewise appealed to Mansi Patel, an owner of Jetstop: The Hangar Taproom, which opened in late March. Named in honor of the nearby Enka High School Jets, the draft beer component gives Jetstop an edge over the local competition and provides people who live in its vicinity a convenient beverage alternative.
“In this neighborhood, there’s nothing close by if somebody just wants to have a beer or two. They don’t have to drive all the way up [to downtown Asheville],” Patel says. “We have so many repeat customers who are from the neighborhood who just come walking here from their home. They have a couple of beers and go back.”
Corn likewise reports that most, if not all, of The Brew Pump’s bar business is foot traffic from the neighborhood, which helps curb one huge potential problem that could stem from mixing vehicles and alcohol. “We obviously do not condone drinking and driving,” he notes.
Like The Brew Pump, Jetstop has a food truck available during business hours, but it also has a space next door ready for someone to lease — ideally a restaurant specializing in takeout food. Patel is also considering adding outdoor seating, and if Jetstop continues on its upward trajectory, she could see the business adding more locations, thereby emulating Mountain River Tap & Growlers, the chain of craft beer tasting rooms and growler filling stations inside Triangle Stop Food stores in Mills River, Saluda, Brevard and Fletcher.