New brewery preserving trees on property, using to build benches, bar top

New brewery preserving trees on property, using to build benches, bar top

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Wrightsville Beach Brewery is set to open in late August or early September. It's located at the corner of Oleander Drive and Greenville Loop Road, next to Salt Works.

On its property are four live oak trees, all estimated to be more than 100 years old. Owner Jud Watkins is preserving those trees and using the ones he cuts down to make tables, benches, bar stools and the bar top.

"If we're going to have to cut a few trees, we want to take those trees and reuse them as best we can," Watkins said. "We have four live oaks, a couple of laurel oaks here, we've preserved a couple of magnolias and a couple pecans."

Orange plastic fencing surrounds those trees on site with signs reading, "Tree protection area. Do not enter." Workers have to maneuver around the areas to preserve the trees root systems.

But what he did cut down to build is not going to waste.

"My friends sometimes call me cheap," Watkins said. "I think I'm just being frugal and good business minded."

For three days straight, Watkins, and a friend with a sawmill cut slabs and slices of wood.

"This is such a good piece," Watkins said, holding a thin piece of wood. "When you look at something like that I just don't have the heart to throw any of it away. So I'm thinking oh that would be really neat for wall art or serving beers on."

Of course beer is the focus of all this, but even that, Watkins says, will have roots in the great outdoors.

"Our beer is really themed around the season," he says.

Watkins wanted to open the brewery in Wrightsville Beach, but says the town never adopted  the same brewery policy Wilmington has, which allows them in the city. Watkins chose the name Wrightsville Beach Brewery for its name has recognition throughout the state.

Watkins' mission with the brewery isn't just serving top-notch brews, but making a positive impact in the Wilmington community.

He has partnered with several local non-profits, including NC Coastal Federation and Dreams of Wilmington. He plans to donate 11 percent of net proceeds from the brewery's "Beer of the Month" to charity.

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