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Plans for new beer garden brew within special drinking district in Elon

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A suggestion from a Gibsonville-based microbrewer may have planted the seed for a new “beer garden” in a section of downtown Elon where the town’s leaders have previously agreed to allow the outdoor consumption of alcohol.

During a regularly-scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Elon’s town council agreed to hold a public hearing later this month about a potential expansion of the town’s so called “social district” to include land along Holt Avenue where the Toasty Kettlyst of Gibsonville proposes to set up this alfresco watering hole.

A partnership between the Toasty Kettlyst and the town’s economic development department, this proposed beer garden would join an assortment of restaurants and pubs that already operate inside the confines of the town’s social district.

The council originally set up this specialized zone a year ago so that people who buy beer and wine from downtown drinking establishments could enjoy their beverages off premises. The Toasty Kettlyst’s plan would ratchet this policy up a notch to allow potent potables to be purchased from an outdoor kiosk that the brewery hopes to set up on land owned by the town.

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At Tuesday’s council meeting, Jill Weston, Elon’s downtown development director, explained that this proposed venture with the Toasty Kettlyst would begin with a two-month trial to see how the new beer garden fits in with the rest of the district. Weston said that, during the period, which would extend from October 14 to December 17, the Toasty Kettlyst would “rent” a patch of municipal property along North Holt Avenue, where the proposed beer garden would set up shop four days a week.

“The town will provide picnic tables, power, lighting, and flowerpots for the trial,” Weston added, “and if the beer garden is successful, I would come back to you with a landscape design for something a little more permanent.”

Weston noted that the town would also provide a porta-potty for the beer garden’s patrons, while the management and upkeep of the beer garden would be the responsibility of the Gibsonville-based microbrewery. The beer garden would also be obligated to hand over 5 percent of its gross proceeds to the town in exchange for the use of its property.

Praveen Karandikar, the Toasty Kettlyst’s proprietor, was also on hand to share some additional insights about the proposed venture on Tuesday.

Praveen Karandikar

“We’re very small. But we brew quality beer,” he told the town’s elected officials that evening.

“We are a community-centric brewery. One of my visions is to promote local and support local.”

Under the terms of the proposed arrangement, Karandikar would be able to sell his locally-sourced brews only at certain times on the four days he’ll be operating in Elon each week.

The beer garden’s prospective schedule currently calls for beer sales from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, 12:00 noon to 10:00 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday. Weston emphasized that this schedule falls within the operating hours of the town’s social district – a criteria that she said was important to the town’s chief of police.

“One thing Chief [Kelly] Blackwelder was adamant about is that this closes when the social district closes,” she added. “We don’t want this to be a place to party hardy.”

Weston added that, for her, factors like “community chatter” will ultimately determine the success of this trial, although she noted that the police department will be more closely attuned to the safety and orderliness of the beer garden.

In order to accommodate Karandikar’s plans for the beer garden, the council will need to expand the current bounds of the social district to include the municipal property that would house his operation. Weston also recommended that the council take in some additional territory along North Holt Avenue, as well as a remnant of West College Avenue that lies outside the district, in order to incorporate the entire block where the beer garden would be.

As a precursor to a vote on the Toasty Kettlyst’s proposal, the council agreed to hold a public hearing on the social district’s expansion. Its members scheduled this state-mandated hearing for the evening of September 26.

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