Chris and Steve's next excellent adventureOct 31, 2019 10:18AM ● By J. Chambless
Chris Davis and Steve Applegate of Bog Turtle Brewery, at what will soon become the brewery's new location in Rising Sun. (Photo by Richard Gaw)
By Richard L. Gaw
From Friday, Oct. 11 through Sunday, Oct. 13, Bog Turtle Brewery on 14 South Third Street in Oxford held a funeral mass of sorts – termed a Final Weekend – but unlike what is normally seen at solemn occasions that say good-bye to the dearly departed, tears were nowhere to be found.
Instead, the place was packed with friends and family, and filled with the music of The Blue Ridge Mountain Cut Ups, Name that Song!, outdoor grilling and lawn games, and of course, the names that allowed Bog Turtle Brewery to quickly rise in the ranks of local breweries: Devil's Nine Ball, Rochambeau and Bristol Witch.
There was no promenade of vehicles with their headlights on, no final prayers and not even a trace of a eulogy. Instead, the weekend served as a three-day toast to a new beginning for founders Chris Davis and Steve Applegate, because in all of the frivolity of that final weekend in Oxford, the simple truth was that Bog Turtle was simply moving a short drive away to Rising Sun.
“The final weekend less a good-bye as it was 'Come and visit us ten minutes down the road,'” Davis said.
“It made great sense to come here, because Rising Sun is a mere ten minutes away from Oxford, and a very good portion of our customers live very near here,” Applegate said from the brewery's new location on 10 East Main Street, which is currently under construction. “We knew that there has been a movement to rejuvenate the downtown area, so we just saw it as an opportunity. Everyone here has been super positive since we've come here. We've been getting nice notes on Facebook about the relocation, and local residents have been stopping us on the street to welcome us.”
The new location – which Davis and Applegate said is scheduled to open in January 2020 – will have a “retro industrial” design, and at 4,000 square feet, it dwarfs the size of the Oxford location, which had only 2,500 square feet. The East Main Street location will provide seating for 80, provide a comfy section that will include couches, offer local entrepreneurs a long captain's table at which they can hold business meetings, and a 40-foot-long bar.
In addition to maintaining the usual schedule of events that made their Oxford location popular, the Rising Sun brewery will include a performance stage that will be used for live bands, games and also double as a place for children to play, while their parents enjoy the company of friends and family nearby.
For those patrons who had to leave the Oxford brewery in search of food, their worries will soon be over, as the Rising Sun location will serve a wide variety of appetizers, all made in a kitchen at the rear of the brewery and served right to them.
Jeremy Vanderhoff of Vanderhoff Builders – who is doing the construction on the project and owns the brewery location on East Main Street – believes that the addition of the brewery is the next step in a continuing revitalization of downtown Rising Sun.
“Bog Turtle will likely become the staple of Rising Sun,” Vanderhoff said. “They're going to be the business that everyone recognizes. When you think of Rising Sun, you'll think of Bog Turtle Brewery. Business is starting to want to return to Rising Sun. Since the opening of the Rise N' Grind Cafe next door, we've seen three other businesses open up – all within the past year-and-a-half.”
Applegate sees the same sense of commitment to business growth in Rising Sun as he and Davis did in Oxford when they first opened their South Third Street brewery nearly five years ago.
“We see a lot of parallels between Oxford and Rising Sun. About 15 years ago, Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. began as a way stimulate business growth in the town, and as a result, the towns saw new businesses, they helped to widen sidewalks, they helped to improve street lighting and bring the town back to where it used to be,” Applegate said. “That's where Rising Sun is right now. They're starting to recruit new businesses here and hold a lot of community events, so it's an exciting time for us to make the move.”
For the first-time visitor, listening to Davis and Applegate talk about their vision for the new chapter of Bog Turtle Brewery is challenging to visualize through the supporting beams, tools and work stations. Through the necessary and temporary dust of construction, they see the next chapter with clarity and anticipation. Friends gathering in the comfortable couch area over to the left. A young business owner holding an informal meeting with her staff at the captain's table to the right. Groups of families enjoying food, pints and growlers and conversation at a several tables. Children playing board games on the performance stage while their parents sit nearby. An ever-changing calendar of musical acts and events.
Mostly, Davis and Applegate see the seamless continuation of what they began nearly five years ago – a thirst-quenching recipe of success born in Oxford that has been moved ten minutes south.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].