Michael and Tara Baker hope their new business, the Union Street Taproom, will be open in time for the upcoming Unicoi County Apple Festival. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Richard Rourk)

By Richard Rourk

Michael and Tara Baker set a lofty goal preparing to open their new business by the time the Apple Festival starts and the hard work the couple has poured into their new business is paying off.

The Bakers believe the Union Street Taproom, located at 111 Union Street in downtown Erwin, will bring much-needed business to the area. Places like Asheville and Johnson City have benefited in a number of ways from having taprooms, which can have a tremendous economic impact on their communities.

A taproom is different from most places that serve alcohol. It is not a bar, a nightclub or a restaurant chain. It is a place for friends and families to come to socialize and enjoy some of the best craft beer around.

“We are a 2018 taproom, we are family friendly and pet-friendly,” Michael said.

Work is coming right along at their Union Street address. The countertop is currently being installed. The signage is in the process of being put together. The Bakers would like to thank the crew at Boomtown in Johnson City for working with them.

Opening this business has been something the couple has wanted to do for a long time.

“We really want to be part of the positive progressive movement in downtown Erwin,” Michael said.

The Bakers plan for the Union Street Taproom, which will be the first craft beer business in downtown Erwin, to be a great location to come in and catch a ball game and sample some craft beers with friends and family.

The Bakers said they are working hard to provide Erwin a unique place to come and be a part of the growing downtown area. The Union Street Taproom also plans to give back to the community.

“We want to partner with the downtown businesses and continue to work with organizations such as the American Cancer Society,” Michael said.

Michael also said they hope to remove any stigma there may be in regards to Union Street’s history with alcohol.

“This is not a place to come get intoxicated, this is a place to sample craft beer,” he added. “This is a place to come enjoy friends and family.”

Michael went on to say, “there will be a popcorn machine for patrons but, right now there are no plans for a food menu at this time. Our goal is to have food trucks come by and the patrons can buy their food and bring it into the taproom.”

He hopes to work with local eateries to make this goal happen.

The Union Street Taproom will have a long countertop along the front window space with stools. There will also be a long countertop where the tap will be against the wall upon entry. There is plenty of wall space for televisions and a space for a projector to display ball games and silent movies. The ceiling is complete with wrought iron light fixtures in place. The Bakers have added Edison bulbs to give the space a classic look.

Although there will be some domestic beers on tap, the Union Street Taproom will feature many different craft beers. The Bakers are working with numerous distributors to bring in the best local beers around. The goal is to possibly have 12 beers on tap total that may rotate in and out.

“Our goal is to have a hard apple cider on tap in time for the Apple Festival,” Michael said. “This will possibly be a first for the Town of Erwin, actually having a hard apple cider at the Apple Festival.”