By LYDIA BERGLAR
Ryan Faircloth, owner of The Groovy Nomad, has been involved in conversations about two separate ventures which has led to some confusion between the two. He said, “People are thinking it’s one thing, but these are two totally different things. They just happen to be getting started at the same time.”
The Sentinel sat down with Faircloth and his wife, Melissa, to get the details about each venture. One is a microbrewery in the City of Trenton, and the other is a wine tasting venue in Dade County. Both are in the early stages and may not come to fruition, and both required looking into government ordinances before moving forward.
Regarding the microbrewery, (which the city ordinances call a “brewpub”), Faircloth explained that it is Clifton Reasor’s idea. Reasor, the VP of business development at Roof Curb Systems in Trenton, mentioned his idea to Faircloth who was on the city’s zoning/planning board at the time. The board has since been dissolved, but Faircloth agreed to begin the conversation with the city.
Faircloth and Reasor approached Mayor Alex Case at the beginning of 2023 simply to see if such an establishment was allowed. Case said there was nothing in the ordinances for or against it, and he then talked with the city’s attorney.
The City of LaFayette was working on an ordinance for a brewpub at the same time, so Trenton was able to copy their ordinance. Faircloth said, “LaFayette’s was straightforward and simple. Trenton had an open meeting, and no other citizens aside from myself showed up.”
According to the ordinance, a brewpub is a facility that brews beer specifically for that establishment and may brew beer for other local establishments. Faircloth added, “For our city ordinance, it also has to sell food with 60 seats minimum. It can’t just be a bar.”
The ordinance passed, and now Faircloth and Reasor can begin looking into property, plans, and details. Faircloth is involved simply as a real estate investor, while Reasor will be the point person. With this new ordinance, the door is also open for other investors, entrepreneurs, or business owners to establish brewpubs.
Reasor and Faircloth’s vision (as pitched to the city commissioners) is a high-quality restaurant such as Top of the Rock in Jasper, Tenn. Faircloth said, “To me, a pub is a place you just go to sit and drink. A microbrewery has a brewery onsite, but we’ll build it out like a restaurant.”
Still in the very early stages, the venture does not have a name, location, or timeline. However, Faircloth said, “We have started thinking creatively about how to share the history of our county through beer. Maybe we’ll have a 1945 Lager or a Linemen Kölsch. There’s a lot of history here that I think we need to be banking on for our tourism.”
The other venture is a wine tasting venue that Faircloth has been calling “The Stables.” Approval for a wine venue comes from the county’s beer board.
After going on a vineyard tour in Blue Ridge and Ellijay this spring, the Faircloths began thinking about the idea. Faircloth explained, “We acquired some land in Wildwood on Carroll Road last year. When we were on that tour, I thought, what if we did something like that on this property? I started putting out some feelers to see if I could raise the money, and I had a lot of people very interested in investing in the project.”
To figure out the first step for approval, he presented his idea to the county commissioners during a public commission meeting. They directed him to the beer board whom Faircloth has met with twice.
All five board members attended the first meeting. Faircloth then learned that people were imagining a honky tonk, bar, or nightclub, so he explained his idea in more detail. Three board members were at the second meeting. Faircloth said, “The beer board’s been helpful; they’ve brought up some good questions.” They have not reached a firm decision yet.
He explained, “To have a winery, you have to make the wine onsite. We do want to grow muscadines, because they grow well around here, but making wine is a whole different ball game. We’d bring in wines from Blue Ridge, Ellijay, and other places and showcase their wines at our facility.”
Faircloth hopes customers can sample wines, purchase by the glass, and also purchase bottles to take home. However, “According to the current county ordinances, you have to do either one or the other: Go into a retail store and buy a bottle of wine, or go into a restaurant and have a glass of wine. You cannot drink and buy a packaged product to take home with you on the same property.”
Faircloth says he doesn’t want to be affiliated with a nightclub. Rather, he envisions a family-friendly environment, noting, “When we’ve visited wineries, there’ve been kids outside playing. For this venue, we’ve talked about having some music on the weekends, like a solo guitarist – not a rock band.”
He and Melissa also care about design, quality, and service. Faircloth said, “My dad taught me that you’ve gotta wow people with their eyes first. The idea is, you pull up to this barn in the country and see the whole valley between the mountains. Then, you walk in and it’s a Roaring Twenties, Great Gatsby-type feel, and you get that wow factor.”
Similar to the microbrewery, Faircloth wants to feature Dade County’s history at the venue. “We’d like to showcase the people who actually built this area. Other counties are doing what we should be doing, and we’re selfish not to sell our own community.”
According to county ordinances, establishments that sell alcohol must sell food as well. Faircloth said, “It will be set up like a restaurant, but nothing major like Canyon Grill. It’ll have shareable plates, charcuterie board, and hors d’oeuvres.”
He and Melissa say that a vision for design and intentional details creates a great environment, while consistency is important when it comes to service. They appreciate quality, handmade food that doesn’t use unnecessary sugar and grease.
While plans for The Stables are further along than plans for the microbrewery, Faircloth said, “Government is slow because you only get one meeting a month. If I could get it passed, I’d like it to be open by next spring, but that likely won’t happen.”
He explained that as a real estate investor, he would be involved in the beginning of the venture, but he would eventually hire someone to run the property who would receive a percentage of ownership.
Turning to the broader topic of alcohol, Faircloth jokes that he is becoming known as the alcohol guy in Dade County because of both of these ventures, but he is intentional about what types of establishments he’s involved with. He did not want to open a liquor store or a bar. Rather, he values the community aspect and experience of an eatery that also serves alcoholic beverages.
He said, “A lot of people have social anxiety, and having a drink kind of relaxes you. Then, you have a social environment where you can just talk. Alcohol is neither good nor bad; it’s just a product. It comes down to how you use it.”
The Faircloths stressed the need for adults who drink alcohol to know their limits and exercise personal responsibility.
Melissa added, “We envision the wine venue as being sort of a third space. Currently, there’s nowhere in the county to go as a third space in the evenings. The coffee shop closes in the mid-afternoon.”
For now, the microbrewery and wine tasting venue both have many steps to go through before becoming realities in Dade County.