I went over to Sycamore Brewing the other night hoping to find out more about why they’ve decided to host Food Truck Friday starting next spring. I ended up finding out that the South End brewery’s expansion plans are far far bigger than just that.
A few months after purchasing its 1.6 acre property ($2.6 million, according to property records), Sycamore is planning to build a second taproom on the back corner of the lot. Things are still too early in the process to have renderings of what it will look like, but the idea is to expand the beer garden and keep it as the centerpiece of the brewery and to include a rooftop patio on the new taproom with views of Uptown’s skyline.
Sycamore’s owners are still going back and forth with the city on the plans, and construction is still at least a few months off.
But Sycamore has big plans in the near-term as well. The brewery is ready to bottle its beer for the first time this week: a special 1,000-bottle release of its Salty Coconut brew that will be hand-dipped in wax and sold out of the taproom and in a few select bottle shops.
Next month, Sycamore will begin canning its Countryside IPA and Southern Girl Blonde for a larger distribution. Initially, the brewery will use a mobile canning company but has plans to build out its own canning capacity eventually.
All this is the natural next step in the evolution of a brewery that’s quickly becoming one of the crown jewels of Charlotte’s beer scene. If you stop by any Saturday afternoon, you’ll know what I’m talking about. The place is packed, and the live music and picnic tables make the atmosphere incredible. Sycamore has begun lighting two fire pits and put up a heated tent for the winter months this past week.
The only downside is that it can take a long time to order a drink with how crowded it is (pro tip: order a pitcher). The second taproom should really help with that.
About the Food Truck Friday move
That’s the news I thought was going to be the biggest of the weekend: Food Truck Friday has changed its mind on where it will relocate.
You’ll remember that the current location at the triangle of land bordered by Tryon, Camden and Park is going to be redeveloped into the headquarters of Dimensional Fund Advisors. That means Food Truck Friday and the Common Market location have been looking for new homes.
Food Truck Friday initially said it would move to Wilmore Centennial Park, a county-owned piece of land a short distance away. The plan was to shut down a part of the street and let people eat in the park.
Organizer Dave Trauner said Gaines Brown (owner of the former Food Truck Friday spot) just got a call from Sycamore offering to host, and it just made sense.
It does, for a lot of reasons. For one, you’re not allowed to drink alcohol on county property, and they would have gotten alcohol permits for drinking in the street every week. While doable, it’s not ideal. That’s obviously not a problem at Sycamore.
Also, Sycamore has a lot of parking — and even more now that the city has striped on-street parking along Hawkins Street.
The main knock I’ve heard about having the food truck rally at Sycamore is that a brewery might not be family friendly. Sarah Brigham, co-owner of Sycamore, said that the demographics already change a lot at the brewery depending on time of day, and they expect families will feel welcome.
The official start date is April 1.
But Trauner said there could be a “soft opening” a few weeks earlier with fewer food trucks — and making good use of those fire pits.