Town Center Spotlight Series: Hop City + Barleygarden
Meet Kraig Torres, the mastermind behind Hop City + Barleygarden, scheduled to open in July. As restaurants are currently facing a challenging and constantly changing environment, thank you for being patient as Kraig and team take their time to prepare properly to keep guests and staff safe from the get-go.
Follow along as we learn more about Kraig and his business, and get ready to welcome Hop City + Barleygarden to Town Center.
Where did the concept for Hop City and Barleygarden come from?
Hop City opened in West Midtown in 2009. We had a 20-plus-year love affair with beer and recognized there was a void in Atlanta in terms of a retail store that specialized in craft beer. At that time, small-production beer only accounted for roughly 6 percent of Georgia’s beer consumption, and metro Atlanta only had four production breweries, with no direct sales to the public.
We viewed our mission as educating others. We continue to view ourselves as educators. We introduce beer and breweries—local, domestic and international—we are passionate about to the public.
What has changed between the opening of the original Hop City concept and now?
Along the way we’ve expanded what we are really good at, including wine, growlers, and the by-the-glass experience. That ultimately led to Barleygarden opening in 2017. We saw an opportunity to expand into the suburbs and opened a really awesome restaurant focusing on locally sourced food that pairs well with beer in Alpharetta. As the beer landscape continues to change, so do we. For that reason, Boxcar in the historic West End neighborhood and Barleygarden, at the super-cool Pinewood Forest development will both have Hop City retail stores as part of the experience. It’s always nice to take home a souvenir when you visit Disney, right?
What drew you to Pinewood Forest?
Hop City’s first three locations were intown spots in Atlanta and Birmingham, AL. Our positive experience in Alpharetta really opened our minds to opportunities outside of downtown. My first visit to Pinewood Forest really sold me on the concept. I probably saw seven couples walk into the sales office during that one hour meeting…on a Thursday! Everything at Pinewood Forest is really well thought out and the folks in the community are fun and creative. It was impossible to say no!
What makes your restaurant unique?
The obvious answer to what makes Barleygarden unique would be the constantly-rotating draft selection. We’ll have 72 ever-changing draft options at Pinewood Forest with different choices upstairs and down. That said, this probably sells us a bit short.
The more thoughtful answer would be our team of passionate guest-first beer, wine, cocktail, and food nerds that want to make your visit special and unique every time you come to see us. From Chef Brian Carson’s food creations to our craft cocktails – Barleygarden is much more than simply awesome beer.
What are you most looking forward to experiencing in this new location?
Naturally, I am most excited to meet our neighbors. As a hard-core beer nerd, it’s always great to meet others that share my passion. That said, our rooftop beergarden at in Town Center should be an amazing spot to grab a beer, watch the game (or reruns of great games, as we’re doing right now) or simply people-watch in what we think will be the heart of Pinewood Forest. And, it doesn’t hurt that the cool folks behind the Marvel’s Cinematic Universe will probably be grabbing a beer at Barleygarden after work.
How does Pinewood Forest fuel your creativity?
The easiest way to answer this would simply be to hang out with our new neighbors. Award-winning builders, architects, gelato wizards, chefs…you name it. Pinewood has done an amazing job attracting talented makers to join this community of really cool residents. I cannot wait to see the heights this community can reach once we all get opened. It should be a blast.