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LIBATION NATION: Peddling pints to pedalers

Trailside Brewing Co. on the Ecusta Trail on South Whitted Street features 16 taps and rotating food trucks. [PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAILSIDE BREWING CO.] Trailside Brewing Co. on the Ecusta Trail on South Whitted Street features 16 taps and rotating food trucks. [PHOTO COURTESY OF TRAILSIDE BREWING CO.]

When Bart Salvaggio, his sister and brother-in-law and another couple bought the old Presto Framing Arts property last year, a microbrewery was the dawn of their vision.

An avid road biker, Salvaggio predicted that the Ecusta Trail would channel a steady stream of thirsty pedalers into the Lennox Station spot for brews, burgers and snacks. It didn’t require the opening of the trail, as it turned out, to generate a crowd. On opening night on May 26, a line snaked around the building.
“The first night there must have been 800 people there,” Salvaggio said. “It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
There hasn’t been much of a dropoff.
When he was looking for a brewery operator, Salvaggio thought of David Schnitzer, whose first retail spot here was Appalachian Coffee Co. It didn’t take long for the two to make a deal.
“He said, ‘I’m thinking about buying it,’” Schnitzer said of the call he got from his friend. “And he did and we got a phone call and he said, ‘It's mine. You want to put a brewery in it?’ And we jumped on it that week.”

Schnitzer worked with his partners at Lawrenceville, Ga.-based Slow Pour Brewing Co. to renovate the space for the pub and beer garden.
“We have a lot of people associated with the brewery, and Slow Pour, being our first one — lots of mistakes,” he said. “Costly mistakes were made at that time, and we just learned a lot.” He also brought to bear his experience in hospitality and running summer camps and retreats for 20 years.
“And then with coffee (experience) and our other breweries, we walked that space and we started with what equipment do we need and how much space was that and how do we want to grow and once we had that set, we knew the vision of what look and feel that we wanted, and that came pretty easy, honestly. We just had different guys on the team that had different skill sets and we just said, ‘Hey, go for it.’”
The result is a vibe of rustic, industrial chic and vertical and horizontal space and openness to the outdoors, a stone’s toss from the trail.
“We wouldn't be there if the Ecusta Trail wasn't there,” Schnitzer said. “We wanted to maximize that. Part our plan is an indoor fireplace. We wanted to capitalize on the year-round” appeal of the bicycle path.
Bartenders pour pints from 16 taps.
“We're gonna find our four or five core beers” and rotate the rest. Three of the taps will from Slow Pour and two other sister breweries. The others will be Trailside products.
The bar has just added Bold Rock hard cider, “which is big for us, because we didn't want to get any other taps other than our own,” Schnitzer said. “But we were just getting so many requests that we just were like, ‘You know what, this is what people want. We need to offer it for them.’”
Trailside has leased the space next door, too, which the partners plan to turn into a cocktail bar, music venue and space for ticketed events.
As for that epic opening night, Schnitzer said it exceeded his most optimistic projection of what might happen.
“We thought, we're gonna be busy. But I had no idea,” he said. “It was really exciting. Grateful. Excited. We hoped for it to be a success and so far it looks like it is.”

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Trailside Brewing Co., at Lennox Station at 873 Lenox Park Drive, will be open seven days a week starting July 10. Hours are 5-9 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 5-10 p.m. Thursday, 4-11 p.m. Friday, noon-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-8 p.m. Sunday. For more information visit trailsidebrews.com.