Open Brewing, the South Asheville pub and brewery operated by the Thirsty Monk chain, will transition into a new venue serving both coffee and beers. Meanwhile, the Monk is continuing with plans to purchase French Broad Brewing Co., but the buyout is taking longer than expected. If the deal goes through, the Monk will turn its currently closed Woodfin location into a French Broad tasting room.
Located in the Gerber Village development, Open Brewing will become Brother Joe’s Coffee Pub, “a coffee house with beer,” Thirsty Monk owner Barry Bialik says. The location will serve coffee, food and will also offer beer from Thirsty Monk Brewery and guest breweries. The new operation will open in early May.
The shift is the latest concept for the location. It was originally a Thirsty Monk pub before being reborn as Open Brewing, which let homebrewers make their own beers on the Monk’s brewing system, after which the beverages were served in the taproom.
The concept, however, never clicked with customers. “It was a good idea, but it was ahead of its time,” Bialik says. “It might have been better in a downtown location.” The homebrewing component was dropped in 2015, but the space continued to operate as a bar.
Bialik believes adding coffee makes more sense for Gerber Village, noting the lack of coffee houses in South Asheville. The coffee will come from Asheville’s PennyCup Coffee Co. and Brother Joe’s will include cold-brewed coffee alongside draft beer.
The business will also serve custom-made bagels and flat breads from The Rhu bakery, made with spent grains from the Thirsty Monk brewery. At first, Brother Joe’s will open at 2 or 3 p.m., then eventually begin serving lunch at 10 a.m. The pub can seat about 99 people.
As for his other current major endeavor, Bialik says he is still working to purchase French Broad from owner Andy Dahm. The brewery just outside Biltmore Village has remained open and is also where Thirsty Monk is currently contract-brewing its own beer.
“It’s still up in the air,” Bialik says of the deal. “We thought it was a jigsaw puzzle with 60 pieces and it turned out to be 1,200 pieces and 10 of them are missing.” He also compares the buyout to the due diligence required when buying a house, during which the prospective new owner discovers the foundation needs repairs before the purchase goes through.
Bialik closed the Woodfin Monk in March, believing it would soon reopen under the French Broad name. But as the unification of the two businesses is taking longer than expected, the location remains closed.
Thirsty Monk, which currently has pubs in downtown Asheville and Biltmore Park, pushes ahead and will host its annual Not So Big BIG Beer Festival on Wednesday, May 31, at its 92 Thompson Street warehouse. Tickets are on sale now at Eventbrite.com.
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