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Photo by Dave Flessner / Monkey Town Brewing is preparing to open another location on Ashland Terrace in the former McHale's Brewhouse.

In order to evolve and continue to grow, Monkey Town Brewing Company in Dayton, Tennessee, is expanding to the Hixson area in space once occupied by McHale's Brewhouse.

Co-owner Kirby Garrison said he and his father operate under a simple motto perhaps best expressed by actor Morgan Freeman in "The Shawshank Redemption:" "Get busy living or get busy dying."

In addition to the Hixson expansion, the Garrisons recently sold their Old Capital Public House in Kingston, Tennessee, and will open a new Monkey Town in Loudon, Tennessee. Garrison said that while the original Dayton location offers a full bar and amenities like pool tables, the plan for the new spaces is to focus more on just craft beer and food.

He said the hope is to open the Hixson store in April, but added that there is no set hard open date "because my Dad and I like to take our time and do it right. We bought the building, so we can take our time."

He also said that when they opened the original location almost six years ago, there was "no craft beer culture anywhere close by. We had to build the culture and started small."

They built their clientele by offering domestic beers as well as the pool tables and have over time created a new culture willing to try something other than traditional favorites such as Miller Lite and Budweiser.

"The goal in Hixson is to do something along the lines of what we wanted to do with Monkey Town when we opened which is focus on the beer I make and the food," Garrison said. "We had to evolve, no pun intended."

He added that the formula works well in Dayton and the intent is to continue drawing people to Rhea County and not take away from what the original location has to offer.

"We are Dayton locals and people like driving here and showing off the area, especially to out-of-town guests," Garrison said. "People don't really know about Dayton, but they always say, 'That was the quickest 40-minute drive ever, and they come here for rock climbing and hiking, hunting and fishing. It's not crowded. COVID has helped with people wanting to get out."

The Hixson location will seat about 75 people in a 3,000-square-foot building, and Garrison said he will offer a variety of lagers, light beers, ambers, seltzers and barrel-aged beers.

"We will do it all," he said. "The food menu will have between 25 and 30 favorites."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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