The Toasty Kettlyst Beer Garden introduced an outdoor beer garden on North Holt Avenue. The outdoor drinking spot is an expansion of the Toasty Kettlyst Beer Company in Gibsonville.
Sitting behind the College Street Taphouse, the addition expands the town of Elon’s social district, which launched in April.
The bar opened its space Oct. 12, and is open Thursday through Sunday. Outdoor lights are strung over picnic tables and craft beer is served from a kiosk on a small patch of green.
Though open for business, the beer garden will have a trial period from Oct. 12 to Dec. 17 to test the ease of operation, according to the town of Elon website.
The owner and founder of the Toasty Kettlyst, Paveen Karandikar, said a primary goal for the expansion was to support other Elon businesses.
Karandikar said he hopes to eventually place a semi-permanent structure in the space.
“I plan for it to be a community center. You should support local and partner with local,” Karandikar said.
Jill Weston, downtown development coordinator for the town of Elon, said she helped plan the beer garden with Karandikar.
Weston said she wanted the town of Elon to be a center for nearby residents to come and enjoy — similar to Chapel Hill’s local college town.But, Weston said keeping Elon’s small size is just as important as its development.
“There is a balance between development and keeping Elon smaller, " Weston said. “A lot of people come here because they want a simpler way of life.”
According to Weston, Elon has few available spaces that aren’t residential to develop its social district. Weston said the former picnic space was a good fit for the Toasty Kettlyst.
Karandikar agreed and said he wants his spot to be connected to surrounding businesses within Elon’s designated social area — acting as a space for live music and community.
“I want people to be able to get a pizza from Pandora’s Pies and come down and have a beer,” Karandikar said.
The effort to introduce the beer garden was approved unanimously by Elon’s town council on Sept. 12, according to Elon councilman J. Quinn Ray. It was introduced as a small edition to the already existing social district. The planned expansion of the social district was criticized in an Alamance News editorial in September.
The editorial brought up the possibility of Elon students drinking underage. The article described the addition of the craft beer garden as part of a “bad dream” and equated Elon to the bar town Pottersville from the 1946 film "It's a Wonderful Life.”
Ray, a former partner at Tangent Eat+Bar, said the venue would give Elon more community and bolster family events, not increase underage drinking.
“I don’t want to create a town that’s Pottersville, no one really wants that,” Ray said.
According to Ray the town council had faced similar pushback last April following the opening of the social district — an area where alcohol can be purchased at local vendors and carried around in approved spaces.
Ray said the negative perceptions from residents were valuable, but it comes from those who haven’t seen what the social district really looks like. During music events on Friday night, Ray said that it was often families enjoying time together.
“It’s understandable for people to have that perspective,” Ray said. “But this is the type of place where families might go.”
Karandikar said all of his bartenders are experienced and ABC-certified, which requires a bartender training course that equips bartenders with skills for the profession. It is not required for bartenders in North Carolina and Karandikar said all of his employees are also experienced with carding underage drinkers.
“We know our traffic,” Karandikar said. “Most order two beers to enjoy the flavor. Many come with their family.”
Thomas Byrd, a long-time Gibsonville resident and patron of the Toasty Kettlyst, said he liked the bar’s easy-going atmosphere.
“It has a great atmosphere and good beer,” Byrd said. “What more could you want?”
Ultimately, Karandikar said his goal is to leave a positive impact on the town of Elon and integrate into the community.
“I'm going to be part of the community and promote the community environment,” Karandikar said. “It’s all incremental and one step at a time.”