Monkey Town Brewing Company plans to make Loudon its newest home next year.
Alan Garrison, co-owner, hopes to open the brewery in April 2021 with son and business partner, Kirby Garrison. The duo has opened locations in Dayton, the Euchee Grill & Brewhouse in Ten Mile and Old Capital Public House in Kingston.
“My son started brewing while he was in college getting his English degree,” Garrison said. “He started brewing in my basement and just took it from there. He’s just really naturally good at it. … Just trial and error and just his love of beer and being creative. So that’s where it started.”
The two plan to open another location in Chattanooga before utilizing the the old depot on Angel Row in Loudon.
“Kind of how we ended up in Loudon was another group was going in there (at the depot),” Garrison said “… One of the guys came to my place in Kingston to get our advice on what they should and shouldn’t do and then next thing I hear, the brewery backed out. … I had just heard they weren’t going to do it. So they said, ‘You know, Alan, you should do it.’ I was put in contact with the town leaders and the mayor and (Loudon County Economic Development Agency Executive Director) Jack Qualls and started talking to those guys and decided that we would do it.”
Preparations have taken about a year, Jeff Harris, Loudon mayor, said.
“It was kind of an interesting, I guess, venture for them and us,” Harris said. “Loudon was not on their radar when they came up and looked at the depot. They were very impressed with it and we put a package together that they felt comfortable with. They were looking at other locations, and we kind of recruited them here away from the other locations because of all the things going on on the waterfront and the depot. They just loved the depot.”
Garrison said the process was “weird” because he did not seek Loudon.
“Although what’s funny is only four or five months prior to that, I was on my way to Knoxville with my son … and I said let’s just take Highway 11 — we got off at Sweetwater — let’s just drive up and down that road,” Garrison said. “Drove through and saw the courthouse burnt down and thought that’d be a great brewery if they’re not going to redo the courthouse there. So I’d already seen the grove and all of that, and I just thought it was really charming, and I just thought it would be a really great place for a brewery and a restaurant just to complement everything else that’s already there.”
Loudon City Council in recent meetings has pushed for ways to boost tourism. Harris believes Monkey Town will help.
“I think it’ll be something that people here will be proud of,” Harris said. “And what we were trying to recruit was a business that would have people come from other counties and other cities just to come and make it a destination point. So we thought getting a name that’s known would help us accomplish that.”
Garrison said 60%-70% of total business at the Monkey Town in Dayton is from out of town. On Saturdays and Sundays, the busiest days of the week, he estimated 95% of business from out-of-town guests. He described the brewery as a “destination spot.”
The brewery won’t be a sit-down restaurant, so neighboring restaurants won’t have to worry about competition, Garrison said. Patrons will come in, order beer and food, sit down and have the food brought to them. The food menu will be limited. Soft drinks will be available.
“We’re not going to have liquor,” Garrison said. “So we’re not going to have cocktails and wine. There’ll be nobody doing shots there. We’re not going to be the rowdy new bar in town. Craft beer drinkers are calm, cool and collected people. You’re not going to be able to get a froofy cocktail or anything like that.”