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Family business enjoys giving back to community
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Nick Tanner, owner of Cherry Street Brewing Co-op, checks the alcohol level of some beer. - photo by Crystal Ledford

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* The restaurant and brew pub are both inside Vickery Village at 810 Bond St. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

* For more information about Rick Tanner’s Grille and Bar and Cherry Street Brewing Co-op, go to www.cherrystreetbrewing.com.

SOUTH FORSYTH — For the owners of a west Forsyth restaurant and brew pub, it’s all about family and community.

Rick Tanner, founder of Rick Tanner’s Grille and Bar, “reinvented” the eatery in 2009 after he said the brand, which he first began more than 25 years ago, was sold to investors who wanted to change the recipes.

“Tanner’s Restaurants have been around since 1986,” Tanner said. “After those investors got involved and changed everything … I ended up taking it back.

“We fired it back up about 10 years ago and we are going into our sixth year here [in Vickery Village].”

Tanner said the restaurant specializes in fresh, made-from-scratch items that range from hand-cut steaks, chicken fingers and breakfast items to some 15 fresh vegetables.

“That’s our big thing. Everything is made from scratch, even all the sauces and salad dressings,” he said.

His son, Nick Tanner, who had been living in Colorado for a few years decided to come back to Forsyth to help his dad run the restaurant. And just recently, daughter Alisa came on board to help with marketing efforts.

“We watched the economy and the market go up and down, and as soon as we saw this area start coming back again, we pursued the brewing,” Nick Tanner said.

“The brewing is something that added a totally new face and atmosphere to our whole business, and it’s changed our business drastically so it’s been really good for us.”

Cherry Street Brewing Co-op was begun on Dec. 12, 2012.

“Since we started on 12/12/12, we have a lot of fun with the number 12 now,” Nick Tanner said.

Cherry Street, which is technically a “brew pub” rather than a brewery, produces a wide range of beers.

Nick Tanner explained that under Georgia law, as a brew pub, Cherry Street must maintain 50 percent food sales, which happens through Rick Tanner’s.

It also has more freedom to sell beer to customers, whereas breweries are not allowed to sell directly to customers and can provide only “samples” as a part of tours.

“So it allows us to do a little more when it comes to parties or beer releases because we can directly sell glasses or pints of beer to customers,” Nick Tanner said. “We can do a lot more.”

Cherry Street brews are also distributed to bars, restaurants and growler stores throughout the northern third of Georgia.

“Locally, the only way people can purchase and take home our beers is to go to a growler store,” the younger Tanner said.

For those who want to enjoy a beer with a meal, up to 17 different Cherry Street’s varieties are available on tap at any given time at Rick Tanner’s.

Nick Tanner said some of the unique flavors available include a coconut porter, a watermelon blonde, which just rolled off the summer menu to make room for the fall’s pumpkin pie porter.

Each month, a different flavor is featured in connection with community fundraising efforts.

Rick Tanner explained that on the last Tuesday of each month, Rick Tanner’s has what they call Last Tuesday Beer Bashes to celebrate a new flavor rotating onto the menu.

In connection with that, a different local charity is selected to be spotlighted.

Ten percent of all sales of that beer flavor during the Tuesday Beer Bash go to that charity. Throughout the following month until the next Tuesday Beer Bash, 50 cents from each sale of that beer also goes to the charity.

“We’ve raised through those events about $11,000 in a year and a half. I think we’ve donated somewhere around $6,000 or $7,000 and then allowed [the charities] to raise another $5,000 or so through selling raffles and collecting donations,” Nick Tanner said.

“Some charities get a few hundred dollars in donations just sitting out front [of the restaurant].”

The current charity on tap, so to speak, is the Humane Society of Forsyth County. Donations will be accepted for that organization through Sept. 29.

That will be followed by the Tuesday Beer Bash for Haiti Reach, a mission through St. Brendan Catholic Church that will assist the island nation with a new school.

Both men said the restaurant and brew pub are all about community and giving back. Nick Tanner said that goes as far as giving the waste products in the brewing process back to local farmers.

The Tanners’ formulas seem to be working for food, beer and business success.

The two businesses, which together have about 70 full- and part-time employees, later this year will be expanding the brew pub into a third adjacent storefront, which will increase the size of the business by about 40 percent.

The expansion will also allow the addition of new bar area, which Rick Tanner said will be more adult-focused, while the restaurant is family-friendly.

The additional space will also allow the hiring of several more employees and increased beer production.

Both Tanners said they are happy to be working together in a business that allows them to give so much back to their neighbors.

“The community has given so much to us in supporting us since we started and supporting the brew business,” said Rick Tanner, noting that as a father he’s also very proud to have both of his children working alongside him.

“We’re a family business, that’s what we’re all about. We’re also all about quality foods, homemade foods, handcrafted beer and music that’s easy on your ears.”