There is a beer buzz in Morristown. But it’s different than the usual weekend bacchanal.
“I think it’s going to be a win-win all around,” predicted Doug Henshaw, attorney for the Wild Bones Brewery Co.
The startup got a use variance from the town zoning board last week, and aims to open Morristown’s first brewery, in a former auto repair shop behind a T-Mobile storefront at 95 Morris Street, within eight- to 10 months.
“We are very relieved and extremely excited to get the variance… We feel we can help with the growth of this part of downtown Morristown. This adds something significant to an exceedingly historic town,” partners Alaine and Scott Anderson, Anthony Necco, and Steven McConnell said in a statement.
A brewery “just brings another level of excitement” to Morristown, said Mayor Tim Dougherty.
“It’s not geared toward a club atmosphere. It will tell people what brewing’s all about. It will create a buzz and bring even more people into town.”
Wild Bones is not a brew pub.
That involves food, extra sanitation concerns for the delicate brewing process, and much costlier liquor licenses.
Instead, the Wild Bones team says it intends to promote “beer tourism,” with tours of the 4,500-square-foot brewery culminating in a “tasting room” where patrons can sample beers and buy “growlers to go.”
The brewery won’t serve food, will close by 10 pm, and must meet other state requirements for its Limited Brewery License.
Additional conditions were imposed by the board, said Chris Kok, who works for the town’s planning consultant, Topology. These include:
- A maximum of 60 seats inside, and 18 on the patio
- No mechanical structures on the roof
- No deliveries between 7-9 am and 4-6 pm
- Someone must guide delivery trucks into the driveway
- The brewery will only have one sign on the building, instead of two
- A fire sprinkler system will be installed
- Tables and chairs must come inside at closing time
- Two removable bollards will protect people on the patio from errant vehicles in the driveway
- One van may park on the premises overnight
A use variance was needed because breweries are not included in Morristown’s zoning master plan. Town health- and building department approvals also are necessary.
‘IT’S FAMILY FRIENDLY’
Before unanimously approving the variance, zoning board members heard testimony last week from John Ward, an audio specialist from Texas who does work in churches and music halls.
Ward said the brewery operation would be no louder than an air conditioner for indoor patrons, and would sound no louder than the wind to nearby residents, Kok related.
Architect Jeff Rawding (signage) and traffic engineer Douglas Polyniak (loading/unloading) also testified. No objectors spoke.
The partners intend to sell their beer to area bars and restaurants. Private parties might book the brewery, too.
“It’s a family friendly, casual, laid-back atmosphere… We want people to come have a good conversation over a local, creative product,” Alaine Anderson told the board in April. She compared the vibe to the Twin Elephant Brewing Co. in Chatham.
The Andersons each have more than a dozen years of experience working in restaurants and bars. They live in Morristown with their 2-year-old daughter, Adriana.
McConnell is a Morristown High School graduate who works at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and formerly taught guitar at the Original Music School in Morristown.
Necco, a Morristown native, is a beer manager for Kings Food Markets. The partners, all in their late 20s and early 30s, said they share a passion for craft beers.
The name “Wild Bones” was inspired by a line in the song
Rotten Bones The Spirit of Jazz by New Jersey band Gaslight Anthem.
Margret Brady contributed to this story.