The latest local microbrewery to enter the Chattanooga market will begin the production process after receiving approval for its distribution license from the Chattanooga Beer and Wrecker Board on Thursday.
Five Wits Brewing Company plans to open its restaurant and food incubator at the corner of Long and West Main streets in September, according to operations manager Tenley Brown. In order to be ready for the opening, Brown said brew masters Nathan Michaels, Elliot Kehoe and Bryan Harris need to begin the 6-10 week brewing process.
Local businessmen Michael and Taylor Monen are partners in Five Wits Brewing with the three brew masters. The Monens operate five local restaurants with two in Nashville. Brown said renovations on the 14,258-square-foot building, which previously housed the Grocery Bar before it closed in 2015, are under way. The five partners lease the site from BYD Long, GP, which built the structure in 1965.
"It is going to be a very cool addition to the Southside," Brown said.
Brown said the restaurant will offer types of food and employ around 100 people. Five Wits Brewing's food incubator and test kitchen will host a rotating line-up of aspiring chefs and restaurateurs from across the country.
Food from the incubator will be available for purchase, but primarily in the Five Wits Tap Room next to the restaurant and bar. She said the restaurant floor plan could accommodate around 600 customers but will actually seat less.
Other microbreweries operating in Chattanooga include Big River, Terminal Brewhouse, Hutton & Smith, Chattanooga Brewing Co, Wanderlinger Brewing Co., Heaven & Ale Brewing Co., Naked River Brewing, OddStory, Mad Knight and Big Frog.
While approving a new brewery, the beer board Thursday also handed down three suspensions or fines to local bars where undercover agents working with the Hamilton County Sheriff's office found the businesses serving alcohol to minors on May 30. In response to the violations, the board:
* Suspended the license of Mystic Food Mart, 2413 4th Ave. for seven days beginning July 25 for selling alcohol to a 19-year-old working undercover for the sheriff's department. The store had a similar violation in September 2018 and received a written reprimand.
* Fined the MAPCO convenience store at 3538 Cummings Highway $1,000 for selling alcohol to a minor. Regional Manager Kyle Berry said the company accepts the responsibility, terminated the employee immediately and has undertaken more training for its employees and managers.
* Suspended or fined Smoke 1, 2101 McCallie Ave., for selling alcohol to a minor. The manager of the business, Akral Algaheil, said the company would likely pay the $250 fine as opposed to having its license suspended for three days.