Brent Cryder and his wife, Tracy, call their planned Southern Tail Brewing at 900 E. Ninth St. in Little Rock their “passion project,” an outgrowth of careers spent in consulting for food and beverage companies.
The Little Rock couple are seeking a permit from the city for a 11,000-SF restaurant and brewery, with a project value put at $4.5 million, though the total investment will be greater.
“First of all, we want it to be a successful business, but mostly it’s our passion project,” Brent Cryder said last week. “In our careers we’ve spent a lot of time advising major corporations, big restaurant chains, large food service and beverage companies. In our minds we’ve always looked for an opportunity to do something ourselves, basically do the fun part of it that we’ve been teaching all of our clients how to do for a long time.”
And the fun part of it is Southern Tail Brewing, a wag of the tail toward the fur-covered members of the community. “We always knew that we wanted the spirit and the atmosphere to be very friend-, family- and pet-focused, because they’re part of our families too,” Brent said.
A charity component, with a focus on animal nonprofits, will be a part of the company’s business model. And dogs will be welcome. “Absolutely,” said Tracy. “It’s also part of the reason that there’s not only an interior concept, but there is a huge focus on outdoors,” she said.
The restaurant will seat more than 150 inside, but the Cryders also plan to have indoor and outdoor event space.
East Harding Construction of Little Rock is the contractor for the project, and the architect is OPA Design Studio of Austin, Texas.
The Cryders’ lender is Arkansas Federal Credit Union of Little Rock, and they also cited the help of the Arkansas Small Business & Technology Development Center.
The couple said they were committed to getting construction underway and haven’t yet settled on a menu.
As for the beer, Brent has experience as a home brewer and has certifications in the food and wine industry, and Tracy has been involved with the Central Arkansas Fermenters of Little Rock, a home brew club, and is vice president of the Arkansas chapter of the Pink Boots Society, which supports women in the fermented and alcoholic beverage industry. She also has led Little Rocktoberfest for the past two years. Both Cryders are also involved with the Brewers Association.
The Cryders say they’ve been working with a brewer but aren’t ready to share his name.
“Our hope is to continue building on what a lot of amazing brewers in the area have done,” Brent said. “The location choice was not an accident. Wouldn’t it be great if that area down there turned into a destination like Asheville, North Carolina, or something like that for the U.S. to come and visit and enjoy?”
The area, East Village, is home to Lost Forty Brewing and Camp Taco at Lost Forty Brewing, as well as the Rail Yard and Sterling Market.
Brent, who was raised in the Erie, Pennsylvania, area, has a computer background that led him to a career in management and business consulting. Tracy, a native of northeast Ohio, moved to Chicago, where she worked in technology, including in the food and beverage industry.
The couple, who moved to Little Rock more than 10 years ago, hope to begin construction in the next couple of months and are working to have Southern Tail Brewing open next year. “It’s time to get this thing moving, developed and done,” Brent said.