Protagonist Beer Co. started as a nano-brewery in NoDa. Now, it just opened its second location, a massive 21,000-square-foot space in Lower South End with three bars, a heated patio, and pizza.
The new brewery is located at 227 Southside Drive near Sugar Creek and Olde Mecklenburg breweries.
The space is a whopping 12 times bigger than their flagship location. Both spaces are designed and styled similarly with a crisp white color palatte and even the same “We Make Beer” neon sign. Architect Cluck Design is behind both spaces.
Co-founders Ryan Owens and Mike Salzarulo plan to continue expanding the Protagonist brand past this, too. They’re hoping to build a beer garden on property they purchased on Brevard Avenue near Optimist Hall.
“We always wanted to build something larger,” Salzarulo says. “We’re still relatively unknown in Charlotte’s beer scene. This is our chance to introduce ourselves again.”
Layout: The LoSo brewery consists of 15,000 square feet of indoor gathering space, plus 6,000 square feet of outdoor space. There are three separate bars — one in the main lounge area, one attached to the pizza kitchen, and one upstairs on the mezzanine.
Beer: Protagonist’s owners are longtime friends who found a passion for beer through home brewing. Before they opened their first location, they hired Jeremy Claeys (formerly of Wicked Weed) as lead brewer. At the LoSo brewery all beer on tap will be Protagonist’s own. The NoDa location, on the other hand, often has guest brews.
Bestsellers: This new location will have Protagonist’s bestsellers on tap, including Danks Obama, a West Coast-style IPA.
Full bar: In addition to beer, Protagonist will have cider, wine, spiked seltzer, cocktails on draft, and a full bar, which they’ll stock in part with liquors from the previous tenant, Great Wagon Road. GWR just opened its new distillery in NoDa in September in the former Bold Missy spot.
[Related Agenda story: See inside: NoDa’s first distillery, Great Wagon Road, soft opens on September 10]
Food menu: Protagonist will have a gas pizza oven and pizza available to purchase by pie or by the slice. The slices will be big. Expect Benny’s-sized slices that are bigger than your head. There will also be smaller personal pies.
There’s more than pizza, too. Here’s a sneak peek:
- Pizzas come in 28-inch, 20-inch, and 16-inch pies or by-the-slice. Slices are about $5-$8, and whole pies are $14-$38.
- Hot soft pretzel ($8) – Queen City pretzel served hot with cheese and hot honey.
- Pesto and goat cheese cheesy bread ($10) – Protagonist pizza dough coated with pesto sauce and fresh goat cheese.
- @420DoggFace208 salad ($15) – spring mix, dried cranberries, red onion, chopped pecans, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette.
- Ben Wyatt calzone ($13) – pick any two toppings.
Fun fact: Salads and pizzas are named after famous protagonists, and cocktails are named after famous (infamous?) antagonists.
Jobs: With so much extra space, Protagonist has also expanded its team from about five employees to about 50.
Opening amid pandemic: Salzarulo says the Protagonist team is worried about another possible shutdown as coronavirus cases rise. But in the meantime, he says, “We’re doing as much as we can possibly do.”
Masks are required for guests unless they’re seated and for staff at all times. The larger space also allows for more social distancing, especially on the expansive patio.
Location: 227 Southside Drive, on the corner of Southside and Yancey.
Hours: Monday-Thursday from 11:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. Friday-Saturday 11:00 a.m.-midnight. Sunday 11:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Hours are subject to change.
Charlotte’s brewery scene is huge. Read more: