By Pete Zamplas
Hendersonville – Dry Falls Brewing Co. is a classic case of a local business turning a major drawback into positives, by greatly expanding its outdoor seating and year-round capacity to adapt to pandemic restrictions.
Dry Falls is at 425 Kanuga Road, near the perimeter of Downtown Hendersonville. It can air out more than most venues, since the building used to be an auto repair shop with many garage doors.
When the two front garage doors by Kanuga Road are open, it clearly signals to those driving by Dry Falls is open. Patrons sitting at that front/east end can see musicians instead of their backs when the stage area faced away from the front doors. Now it is near, in the southeast corner of the renovated interior.
Four more doors of the former body shop are on the side. They are open on warmer and busier nights, for greater air circulation and less germ spread. Porch space and exterior walkway was added in 2020.
The statewide Safer at Home Order’s Phase 2.5 of business reopening began Friday. It lasts to at least Oct. 2, according to Gov. Roy Cooper. Nearly a half-year after his bans took effect, bars and nightclubs remain closed. So do indoor cinemas and dance halls, and amusement parks.
However, the following can reopen at 30 percent capacity — fitness, yoga and martial arts studios; athletic gyms, skating rinks, and bowling alleys.
Museums, aquariums and playgrounds can now reopen — at half capacity. Mass public gathering limits double, to 50 outside or 25 indoors. Wearing protective masks in public remains mandatory.
A separate state order allows visitation at nursing homes — only outdoors, strict guidelines and on a trial basis through Sept. 22.
Gollihers are Bold
Establishments that have bars but also have enough of a food menu to officially qualify with the state as a restaurant have reopened since June. This includes Dry Falls. They remain limited to half of their overall capacity.
This goes by new capacity of both indoors and outside. Thus, there is incentive to expand outdoor dining, as Dry Falls has done. Open Streets weekends in Downtown Hendersonville have promoted outdoor dining, with it allowed fully across sidewalk in front of restaurants on those weekends. This past Labor Day Weekend was such a weekend.
The Golliher family that owns Dry Falls has boldly expanded its outdoor capacity, for the long term and instead of standing pat and waiting for eventual reopening. Jeff and Becky Golliher and their son Evan, 35, co-own the business. They started it in August of 2016, later moved it to its current site, and have steadily built it up since Nov. 2, 2018. This year, they took drastic steps.
Evan Golliher spoke with The Tribune, on a busy Saturday night Aug. 29 in which he tended bar and helped wait on tables outside. The brewery released its new Blueberry Saison craft beer.
Dry Falls’ capacity has been 160 indoors. The Gollihers limit it to 75, slightly below the half-capacity cap of 80 people.
There now are as many (18) tables outside as indoors, and most have gone up this year, Evan Golliher noted. They are spread out to abide by the six-foot standard. Every other outdoor table is marked off with an “X,” for far extra social distancing.
Evan Golliher is pleased how many patrons sitting outside dance by their tables, rather than crowd in front of the band. That spreads out dancers. One couple danced silly near the bar Aug. 29, getting people there into an uproar.
The Gollihers are prepared for chilly fall and winter nights at work. They plan to enclose the outdoor porch with heavy-insulating wrap and warm it with power heaters.
On a warm night Aug. 29, Letty Burgin and her three 30-something friends sat around the corner in back outside. That was the quietest spot, with most privacy. They could still hear music but liked how with low volume they could easily chat.
Live music resumed at Dry Falls June 6, once state rules eased enough. Bands play there Saturday nights, and some Fridays. This coming weekend, country-pop guitar duo The Unexpected play 7 pm Friday then Mojomatic on Saturday. Folkadelic 3, returns Sept. 19.
August wound up with classic rock bands Twisted Trail Aug 28, then 28 Pages on Aug. 29 for its second show since idled by the pandemic.
Dry Falls has been a home venue for 28 Pages. The group played its final show of 2019 there, last Dec. 28. Steven Posey, main vocalist-keyboardist, said “it feels great to get back to playing live music.”
Band leader Christian Justus, the bassist, relishes the musician-crowd connection. “When the crowd has much energy, you know you’re doing something special and entertaining. That is fulfillment. When you get people dancing, you feed off that energy of the crowd. It’s fuel, to entertain even harder and play out those magic hours on stage.”
Live performance is Justus’ musical “foundation. Without it, it is almost like painting a beautiful canvas with no one else to share it with.”
The band 28 Pages plays Sept. 19 at Triskelion Brewery at 340 Seventh Ave. E., then Sept. 26 at South Rock Sports Grill at 830 Greenville Highway also in Hendersonville.
For more on Dry Falls, call 696-0660