A beer garden is on tap for a Derby site that previously housed Grassy Hill Lodge, a long-standing wedding and catering venue.
Owners are aiming to open THC The Hops Company on Nov. 10.
“We’re going to do something different than everyone’s doing,” said Umberto Morale of Trumbull, who owns the business with his wife, Lisa.
Morale said the property at 77 Sodom Lane is a perfect venue since it sits on five acres, seats 300 people and is already zoned appropriately.
Visitors will get to sit at the 40-seat bar, at tables, outside, or on couches in front of the building’s two fireplaces as they try some of the 36 beers on tap or various food options.
Morale said he plans to highlight Connecticut-made beers by partnering with area breweries.
The Nov. 10 opening is slated to be in conjunction with Stratford-based Two Roads Brewing Co., he said.
“A lot of the breweries have been supportive,” he said.
He’s opening the beer garden at a time when the popularity of craft beer has exploded in Connecticut, as it has nationally, in recent years.
Recently, craft beer brands have shipped more barrels than the once mighty Budweiser, the old “king of beers.”
The Connecticut Beer Trail features more than two dozen breweries at which Connecticut entrepreneurs are making and selling their own beer.
Connecticut breweries produce more than 72,000 barrels of craft beer a year, according to the Brewers Association trade group. Statewide, there are 27 craft breweries located here, up from just 16 in 2011, according to the group.
In addition to beer, The Hops Company will offer a full bar and “casual” food options, such as those sold by food trucks and other local food vendors.
Morale envisions The Hops Company as a family-friendly place, where parents can enjoy food and drink while children play outside. He plans to put a bocci court and cornhole games outside, and have ice cream trucks and other food trucks visit during the warmer months.
Instead of being served by waitstaff, patrons will walk up to windows or counters to order food.
“It’s more casual,” he said.
The site where The Hops Company will open is just off the busy Route 34 corridor, but borders on a residential neighborhood.
Morale said he is sensitive to his surroundings and does not plan to host loud events late into the night. As Grassy Hill Lodge, he said, the property already was zoned to be able to host outdoor events and parties.
“The neighbors have been very supportive,” he said, noting that curious ones have stopped by the property to inquire about what he’s doing.
The Hops Company Facebook page, which launched in early September, already has more than 1,000 likes. People identifying themselves as neighbors and locals have been posting on the page, saying they are looking forward to its opening.
The idea, he said, has been several years in the making. Morale previously owned Tula restaurant in Monroe, which he sold about a year ago.
Morale, who has worked in the restaurant industry as well on Wall Street as a trader, has been wanting to open a beer garden similar to those in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“This is a concept that I’ve been working on even prior to Tula,” he said. “I love craft beers. The hard part was to find a place like this. When this (location) came along, it was just love at first sight.”
Martha Dulla, who owned Grassy Hill Lodge, said she decided to sell the business for personal reasons, and is looking forward to seeing its transformation.
“I know I’m leaving it in good hands, and will be a successful business,” she said.