The city commission approved a “brunch ordinance” Wednesday night that will allow Sunday alcohol sales to begin at 11 a.m. with one of the potential users a restauranteur who plans to open a restaurant in the shuttered Strong Roots Provisions location.
The commissioners’ approval of allowing Sunday alcohol sales to begin 1 1/2 hours earlier was mostly administrative, City Attorney Brian Corry said. City voters approved the provision in a Nov. 6 referendum, but the city had to put it in the form of an ordinance.
Christopher Gantt won approval of a city license to sell beer, wine and liquor at Reid’s Apothecary, a redesigned restaurant and bar that Gantt said he hopes to open by mid-February. The timing depends on his getting a state alcohol beverage license, Gantt said.
The location at 1618 Newcastle Street has been closed since Oct. 16 after a rocky start. The Glynn County Health Department temporarily closed the restaurant Sept. 13 when it was found that owner Matthew Raiford had not obtained a required food service license. Strong Roots obtained its certificate of occupancy Sept. 20 and its food service permit Oct. 2, but that wasn’t enough.
The Glynn County Sheriff’s Office served an eviction notice on Raiford Oct. 16, and the county is working with Raiford to work out his repayment of a $70,000 loan.
That money came from the Glynn County Economic Development Revolving Loan Fund that helps start small businesses.
Gantt appeared before the commissioners at their first meeting of 2019 to explain what he plans to do. He also had to explain naming a business that will rely heavily on alcohol sales an apothecary.
Reid is a family name, Gantt said, and Apothecary is based on the premise that good food is good medicine.
The commissioners voted on his application before considering the “brunch ordinance,’’ and Gantt said he plans to serve brunch on Saturday and Sunday and to serve lunch and dinner and stay open late every other day except Monday, when the business will be closed.
Speaking of strong roots, Gantt can claim his own.
“My great-great-uncle was Trader Vic,” Gantt told the commissioners.
Trader Vic was the nickname of Victor Jules Bergeron Jr., who founded a chain of Polynesian-themed restaurants in California during the Great Depression. He named them Trader Vic’s.
Gantt said he came to Glynn County two years ago with the Northview Hotel Group, owner of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel, and designed what is now Eighty Ocean, the kitchen and bar inside the resort hotel.
He did a stint at Sea Island designing Tavola, a restaurant at the Cloister before coming to Brunswick to design Strong Roots.
Gantt said he designed the bar and speak-easy at Strong Roots, but has completely redesigned the restaurant.
“I just redid the whole thing,’’ he said. “I don’t want it to resemble what it was at all.”
A bookcase conceals the entrance to the speak-easy that he has named “The Study.”
Gantt said he has hired a back-of-the-house chef, and he called the menu “New Southern,’’ which he described as new takes on old others recipes.
He told commissioners he had wanted to open a restaurant downtown and ultimately decided to do so at the former Strong Roots.
He acknowledged he has work remaining to meet his planned opening date including obtaining his state alcohol license as quickly as possible. His was one of two city licenses approved Wednesday.
The city also granted a license to Hugo Acero to sell beer and wine at Pie Guys Pizza at 710 Glynn Isles, but they went along with a recommendation to deny a sales permit to a business that had been planned at 3329 Norwich Street. A city police investigation showed the building was too close to residences. It is diagonally across the intersection from Norwich Street Commons.
The commissioners also named Commissioner Vincent Williams mayor pro-tem to preside over meetings should Mayor Cornell Harvey be absent or have to step aside temporarily because of a conflict of interest.