MOREHEAD CITY — A downtown pub and brewery that has been closed for repairs since Hurricane Florence will be up and running by this summer.
That’s according to Tight Lines Pub & Brewing Co. owner Russell Lewis, who said Tuesday he hopes to reopen the space sometime in June.
The restaurant and brewery, at 709 Arendell St., suffered heavy damage during the powerful September storm. Mr. Lewis said the roof caved in, allowing about 20 inches of rainwater to inundate the building. He has been working on getting the space workable since then.
“We basically had to gut it, take everything completely out, and then we spent a long time working through the insurance claim. That took some time to say the least,” He said. “Now we’ve been working to put it back together.”
Mr. Lewis said he and his team started remediation immediately after the storm in September, but the bulk of repairs began near the end of the winter after they had mostly settled the insurance claim. He said his grandfather’s company is the restaurant’s general contractor, so he at least didn’t run into the common problem of not being able to find anyone available to do the work.
One major repair still needing work is the front wall, which was heavily damaged.
“There’s some structural issues with the wall, so we’re trying to work through that with our engineers and the insurance company to resolve that,” he said. “We actually had a meeting this morning (Tuesday) with a consultant on it and we’re hoping to get some guidance on the next day or two.”
Mr. Lewis bought the Tight Lines building in 2014 and said his grandfather helped with renovations back then, as well. He said the storm arrived five years to the day that he originally began the renovation process to first open the restaurant and brewery.
“I felt like I walked back five years in my life,” he said. “It’s funny because it’s going quicker this time. You know, because it’s like you’ve already done it once, it’s just doing it again.”
In spite of the setback, Mr. Lewis said he is taking the time to make some changes and upgrades to the space. He said the floor plan will be different and some of the décor will be updated. Upstairs, for example, he is leaving the ceiling beams exposed after he tore out the rain-soaked insulation and reinstalled it above the roof.
“We’re definitely changing some things around, just freshening it up,” he said. “Things have really changed a lot, even in just five years, especially with décor and brewery feel, so we’re definitely going to be introducing some new things.”
Additionally, there are some changes in store for the beer garden, which is attached to the restaurant and on-site brewery.
“We’re going to make the beer garden more accessible and a bigger part of the restaurant, because we’re adding a door on the side so you can walk out through it,” Mr. Lewis said. “There will be better seating, it will be more comfortable.”
Unlike the rest of the building, Tight Lines’ brewery experienced only minimal damaged during Florence, so Mr. Lewis said they have still been able to brew in the months since. The brews can be found on tap at local restaurants and regional events.
“We were able to get (the brewery) back functioning pretty quick,” he said. “The restaurant is quite a different story altogether.”
Mr. Lewis said he plans to introduce some new brews in addition to old favorites when Tight Lines reopens.
“It’s some tasty stuff,” head brewer Christian Dixon said.
Mr. Lewis also plans to update the restaurant’s menu. It will still include the ever-popular burgers and appetizers, but he and his team are working on developing new recipes. He will continue to feature fresh, local seafood and North Carolina-grown products like pork and chicken, as well.
“We’re still keeping with that pub vibe but bringing in some new stuff,” he said. “…Essentially we’re relaunching the whole business.”
Once it reopens, Mr. Lewis hopes to get back into the swing of things right away with weekly trivia nights and live music during the summer.
Mr. Lewis said he is excited to reopen and get things back to normal, a sentiment he expects many throughout the county share.
“We’re looking forward to seeing all of our friends again. It’s been seven months since we’ve seen everyone,” he said. “I think people just feel good to have a return to some semblance of normalcy, because the hurricane has changed everything so immensely in this area, not just with us.
“I think as one business after another returns and houses get built back, it’s just good to see the community starting to come back together and feel normal because things did not feel normal for a long time.”
Tight Lines is in the process of hiring new employees, and Mr. Lewis said those who are interested can submit an application. For updates on the pub and brewery’s reopening, follow Tight Lines on Facebook.
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.