Grocery brewery opens in Tuscaloosa with Cajun-style food and house beers

After months of preparation, staff training, and remodeling of the old Mellow Mushroom space, the Grocery Brewpub has opened at 2230 University Blvd., serving pub food, home-brewed beers, specialty cocktails and cocktails. high-end whiskeys.

The building is physically roughly the same as it was in the summer of 2017 when Mellow Mushroom moved due to high rent, with towering ceilings, hardwood floors, exposed brickwork, stone accents, and wrought iron and twin patios upstairs and downstairs.

But it has been structurally cleaned and repaired, and is now minus the 60s / 70s pop-art touches added by former Mellow Mushroom artists, such as the ceramic elephant that hung above the University Boulevard gate. .

The Grocery Brewpub, named after a similar establishment owner, Rayford Cook, established in Homewood on the site of a former A&P grocery store, has a main dining room that seats around 200 people, framed by a long bar and a kitchen on the ground floor, with large windows letting in light from the south and east. Cook plans to keep the kitchen open until 2 a.m. for late night dinners, those looking for something after a concert or game. He described the menu as southern, with a touch of Cajun seafood.

The second floor is filled with pool tables, darts, arcade games, and a second long bar with 44 beer taps – over 80 in total across the business – including all six concoctions created by Grocery Brewpub : A&P Pilsner, Clean Upon Hefe, Porter with Hazelnut, Aisle 22 IPA, Express Lane and Bag Boy Brown. Also on the second floor is a stage for music and other events.

What might not have been seen before at the old Mellow Mushroom, which operated in this space for 18 years before finding its new home at 557 20th Ave., across from Government Plaza, is the mezzanine space which should become a premium whiskey. bar, stocking 40 to 60 premium brands, Cook said.

“Some are going to be uniquely assigned to us, which means you have to go through your reps to get them,” he said. “The idea is that we’re bringing something to Tuscaloosa that we really don’t have, a premium selection that you would otherwise have to travel over 100 miles right now.”

The Grocery Brewpub on University Blvd.  cut their ribbon, celebrating their grand opening on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Owner Rayford Cook is enjoying the festivities. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Sofas and woodwork will blend together to create a learning and relaxing aesthetic, he added. Along with flavors from Japan, Ireland, Canada and beyond, the Grocery Brewpub will feature some of America’s many tastes, so it’s practically its own art form, Cook said.

“We want to create a space where you can actually understand, learn and taste all of these things,” he said.

“We’re also going to have a humidor here, so you can buy a cigar and smoke it upstairs on the outside patio, and have a nice glass of bourbon. It will be a great place to relax on a match day. ”

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The bourbon bar will obviously be a 21+ area, but the rest of the place will be family-friendly. In the case of second floor music or other events, they will provide bracelets to distinguish those who are legally allowed to drink.

Although Cook opened the first Grocery Brewpub in Birmingham’s Homewood district, the Marion native feels right at home in Druid City. He attended school in Tuscaloosa, as a nursing student at the University of Alabama before changing careers, and began his restaurant career here, working out of the Indian Hills Country Club in Red Lobster. . He runs a Bonefish Grill restaurant in Washington, DC, and has operated food trucks for a decade, but has long hoped to return to Tuscaloosa.

The name Grocery Brewpub fits the new location well, built in the early 20th century, possibly during the downtown boom period of 1910-1928, and originally operated as a dry and general store. City records indicate that the corner lot contains over 10,000 square feet of space.

The Grocery Brewpub on University Blvd.  cut their ribbon, celebrating their grand opening on Thursday, May 20, 2021. Ashlen Grantham brings a tray of frozen drinks to the second floor. [Staff Photo/Gary Cosby Jr.]

Although Grocery Brewpub just had its grand opening on Thursday, the business actually opened smoothly on A-Day, then had a booming graduation weekend, before the action slowed down a bit after the departure of the students from the city.

“Obviously school is over now, so the last two weeks have been a bit slower, but I expect that to change this week,” Cook said.

For more information, check out the Grocery Brewpub Tuscaloosa Facebook page or call 205-637-0990.

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