It all began in 2011, with Townes Mozer peddling his homemade, organic kombucha at farmers’ markets with promises of one day opening a taproom, complete with microbrews. Armed with that wild dream, he set along the path and opened Lenny Boy Brewing Co.’s first taproom in 2012. By 2013, it was the only certified organic kombucha producer in the Southeast—and it was still growing.
Lenny Boy picked up brewing beer, a move that allowed it to quickly outgrow its original 2,400-square-foot Hawkins Street location in historic South End and move into a 32,000- square-foot facility off South Tryon Street.
Since then, Lenny Boy has done its fair share of supporting the community with local farm sourcing, highlighting local yoga instructors at their recent Namaste All Day and showcasing local coffee purveyors with Pour Coffee Festival. It regularly hosts local craft superstar Amber King from Little King Art, providing space for her macramé and arm-knitting workshops, as well as hosting a semi-regular Starving Artists Market.
And now, Lenny Boy has grown yet again by opening a kitchen in line with their “Local First” philosophy, which states: “At Lenny Boy, we are committed to providing a quality product and source locally whenever possible. We are proud of our local purveyors.”
“We wanted to express ourselves on the plate,” Mozer said. “We love seeing people’s eyes light up with what we give them in a glass, and we are looking forward to that same excitement when presented with our new menu.”
Lenny Boy’s food truck/brewery partnership has been a great idea that posed a slew of challenges. Inclement weather makes it hard for patrons to wait for their food in the rain or cold, Mozer said. Plus, food trucks are separate businesses often subject to their own list of woes and challenges, preparing food offsite and selling it from a limited space.
Overall, Mozer said they’ve had an excellent relationship with their food trucks and will still feature rotating trucks each Saturday during their busier times. But Lenny Boy has evolved in a different direction. The brewery needed something more consistent with their open times, as well as with their local-focused mission. Mozer wanted to support patrons, as well as staff, by keeping things as in-house as possible and to create more opportunities with the farms with which they were already working.
The new kitchen set-up will be simple: You’ll order at the bar, take a number, and the food will be brought out. No more sending someone outside to wait on food while the rest of your group waits inside—unless on Saturdays you just want to.
The menu will feature four Bavarian-style pretzels—including one with a local lavender whipped cream cheese—charcuterie and cheese boards, a handful of sandwiches on bread from Nova’s Bakery, pimento cheese with a “Lenny Boy twist” and popcorn with weekly-rotating flavors, a nod, Mozer said, to the original location.
“Our regulars who have been with us for the last 7 years will appreciate this one,” Mozer said. “We get asked all the time when the popcorn is coming back, and it’s back.”
Cackleberry Farms regularly stops by to pick up spent grain for their livestock (a common practice among breweries), and they will in turn provide the cheese for Lenny Boy’s Burn Down Brown beer cheese. “It’s pretty cool,” Mozer said. “You’ll be able to eat the cheese made from the beer that fed the cows that provided the cheese.”
Cheese for the cheese boards will come from Orrman’s Cheese Shop, which sources regional cheeses.
The goal with Lenny Boy’s kitchen is to feature foods from North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia to complement the brews.
“The deeper the connection to the food,” Mozer said, “the deeper the passion for what’s on the plate and what’s in the glass.”