A new restaurant with more than 100 taps of local and regional craft beer, kombucha tea, coffee and draft wine is expected to open in downtown Raleigh in mid-2017.
Denver-based franchise Growler USA will move into street-level retail attached to a parking deck at 314 S. Blount St. across from City Market. The deck is owned by the city, but the retail space is part of developer Gregg Sandreuter’s Edison Lofts project.
The Raleigh location’s owners, husband-and-wife team Amrish Raj and Sunita McCoy, said they chose to partner with the chain because it gives a lot of freedom to owners to choose beers from area brewers.
“This pub is hyper-local,” Raj said. “Most of the products will be sourced from around here.”
McCoy and Raj, who have backgrounds in the consulting and IT industries, have been married for 8 years and live in Cary.
The couple decided to branch out into the food industry while getting graduate degrees in business from the University of North Carolina, Raj said.
He added that he hopes the restaurant’s large tap selection will give local brewers a chance to build an audience around their beer in an increasingly crowded market.
“A concept like this might actually give them an avenue to demonstrate and sell their products,” he said.
Raj said he hasn’t owned a restaurant before, but has experience running his consulting company.
The chain has 10 locations nationally – in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Oregon and Texas, said Growler USA spokeswoman Kayla Atwell. So far, it has only one other restaurant in North Carolina, in Charlotte, with others in development in Durham, Gastonia and Wilmington. The Gastonia location is expected to open in March, she said.
Growler USA’s menu includes a variety of salads, burgers, appetizers and other bar food staples.
Growler USA is not the first franchise to announce that it’s coming to downtown Raleigh this year.
In September, hamburger restaurant Wahlburgers announced it would open on Fayetteville Street in a spot previously occupied by the Oxford restaurant and bar.
The chain, owned by the family of actors Donnie and Mark Wahlberg, sparked excitement for some fans. But it caused discomfort for some local business owners who worry that chain restaurants are capitalizing on work they did to make downtown Raleigh a more lively place.
By September, only two of the 18 restaurants that had opened in 2016 were non-local, said Bill King, senior director of planning and development for the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, an advocacy group for downtown businesses.
Developer Sandreuter, who said he has watched downtown grow and evolve, said a few chains interspersed with independent businesses is positive.
“Downtown has plenty of room for the local entrepreneur and the franchisee,” Sandreuter said.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi