Frasers begins new life as Boondocks
Last modified: Aug. 30, 2012
For more than three decades, Gary Brown dreamed of opening his own craft brewery — and now he's taking his shot in West Jefferson.
What was once Fraser's Restaurant & Pub on S. Jefferson Avenue has become the canvas for Brown's new project, Boondocks Brewing Tap Room & Restaurant.
“I mean, I really didn't see myself owning a restaurant,” said Brown with a laugh. “But it just felt like a lot of things lined up right with this deal.”
The North Carolina native spent two decades working for RBC Centura in Internet Technology for the bank, while honing his beer brewing craft on the side.
Since 1994, Brown has owned a home in Creston after realizing how much he enjoyed the High Country.
“I love this entire state,” said Brown. “But I really love Ashe County.”
In 2007, though, Brown lost his only brother to cancer. Last year, his wife lost her father.
“I really started to think,” said Brown. “I'd done fairly well in the corporate world, but I was beginning to look at life a little differently. I wanted to try something else.”
In March, Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services purchased RBC Centura and offered Brown the chance to head north — or take early retirement.
“I had to make a choice,” said Brown. “I could move to Pittsburgh, or I could take my early retirement and do something with it.”
He chose West Jefferson.
“Suddenly, I was looking at all this free time, and I was searching for ways to make a small brewery happen,” said Brown.
After looking at property around West Jefferson, Brown said he kept coming back to Frasers, where he said he'd always felt comfortable.
“I'd been a customer at Fraser's for a long time and, Nigel and Barbara (Wirgowski) said this place could use my brew pub idea, and we started looking at me taking over Frasers,” said Brown.
With no restaurant experience, Brown's first thought was, “No way!” he said. “But the staff, the food, everything at Frasers was great. The more I thought about it, I just felt like I couldn't pass it up.”
Just like that — Fraser's began its transition to Boondocks and Brown said he's excited.
Brown hopes Boondocks becomes a place that draws new visitors to Ashe County, and becomes an establishment locals are proud to call their own.
“The use of Boondocks in our name is not intended to reflect a specific place or social status,” said Brown. “To me, Boondock's captures the idea of wholesome living, family, and looking after each other.”
Brown is simplifying Boondock's dining options and creating an “All Day” menu he hopes will streamline the restaurants offerings.
The former staff of Frasers has also bought into Brown's vision, for which he said he is grateful.
“When I closed on this place on July 31, I wanted the entire staff's input,” said Brown. “These folks, this staff, are the experts. They've been great so far, and I feel we all want the same thing.”
Brown said he wants to focus on using local ingredients at Boondocks.
“To me, leveraging what we have around us, especially the local ingredients, is very important,” said Brown.
Although he still has to complete the mountainous permitting process state and federal regulators require of breweries, Brown hopes to begin brewing his special brand of craft beer in the spring of 2013 and said he plans to showcase up to 50 beers on tap eventually.
“I'm just excited to start the process,” said Brown. “I'm 28 days in here, and I've never worked so hard, but it's really a privilege to start something like this.”