Loudon brewery delayed

Monkey Town Brewing Company’s Sage Malone pours a drink last year during the Loudon County Chamber of Commerce 32nd Annual Gala and Chamber Choice Awards.

Plans for opening a downtown Loudon brewery have been pushed back several months following problems outside owner control.

Alan Garrison, co-owner, hopes to have Monkey Town Brewing Company open “early 2022.” An announcement on the brewery was initially made in 2020 when hopes were to have the business open in October, but that was pushed back to April.

“With everything going on just from a supply standpoint with heating and cooling equipment to refrigeration equipment, the whole deal, and our goal was to already have Chattanooga open — Chattanooga’s still not open,” Garrison said. “Plus, we’ve got a couple of new issues that we have to address in Loudon.”

Garrison pointed to infrastructure issues he didn’t initially anticipate when looking at the old depot on Angel Row.

“It’s just going to take more than us coming in there and bringing in a general small contractor and putting up some walls and doing some stuff,” Garrison said. “It’s going to take a little bit more expertise. ... We’re going to want to have plumbing for 80-90 people as opposed to they had the chamber of commerce in there for 30 years with three people in there. We’re going to have plumbing for the kitchen and plumbing for a brewery and electricity for all of that. There’s some infrastructure that we have to address that we just really underestimated when we first started and thinking about going in there. Just a rethinking and a regrouping of what needs to be done.

“... One issue after another there and we’re sorting through them and that’s a long story all on its own and we think we can be in there truly realistically we think we can be in Chattanooga October-November,” he added. “Our attention is on Loudon now because we know how long it’s taking to get everything done in Chattanooga, so it’d be great if we could open at the beginning of the year in Loudon, so I think we could be open very early 2022. I know that everybody wants it sooner, the town wants it sooner and all that, but nobody’s going to get in there any sooner I would think unless they had some major money and resources to just hire whatever and money is no object and move us to the front of the line. We don’t have that kind of money.”

Despite the delay, Garrison emphasized there is no cause for concern.

“Really the only holdup with Loudon is that Chattanooga has its own issues and problems and, again, you just can’t get anything done,” he said. “You can’t find a contractor that is any sooner than three to four months out. You go to buy a walk-in freezer in Chattanooga, we’re now going on 4 1/2 months and they think it will now be here at the end of August. It’s stuff like that. Stuff that’s beyond our control. We’re setting up a brewery and a restaurant so it’s a little bit more difficult than just opening up a storefront and bringing your merchandise in and using bathrooms that are there and let’s go.”

Jeff Harris, Loudon mayor, in February said the monthly lease agreement was why the city had difficulty filling the building. Lease terms were extended from month-to-month to a three-year revolving contract with the city. The lease can be renewed three times.

“Once open it is another community gathering space,” Ty Ross, Loudon manager, said in an email correspondence. “Whether it be a place to eat, enjoy a beverage or just a shared conversation, a space such as this constitutes a ‘third space.’ A third space is not work nor home and cannot be delivered by Amazon. Spaces like these are the future of downtowns.”

In addition to issues with Loudon and Chattanooga, Garrison said he’s having trouble finding employees for a bar and grill in Ten Mile.

“All of my contractors have the same problems,” he said. “The guy who was going to start on Chattanooga sooner, he’s like, ‘I had five guys not show up just today alone.’ So then you call another one and are, ‘How you looking?’ ‘Man, not any better than them.’ It’s bad from a supply chain standpoint and from an employment standpoint, and so now everything is just backing up on them and the jobs they thought were going to be finished 2-3 months ago they’re just now starting and it’s going to be two months before they finish with it, assuming all goes well. ... Believe me, I think Loudon is a neat little town. ... We’re excited to be there and I think it’s going to be a neat place and a cool place and something that Loudon and the surrounding area is going to be proud of and want to come to. We’ll get there.”