Inside this NoDa brewery’s plans for a modern-day clubhouse

By Jennifer Thomas
NoDa’s newest brewery expects to open in early 2019.

That venture — called Protagonist Clubhouse ­— will occupy 1,700 square feet in the former NoDa Grocery space.

That’s part of Fat City Lofts, at the corner of North Davidson and East 35th streets in Charlotte.

Plans call for a nano-brewery and taproom that caters to beer enthusiasts as well as novices.

“We hope to support an openness to experimentation, a welcoming feeling and approachable atmosphere, a sense of belonging and generosity toward the people around us,” says Ryan McKillen, founding team member.

He’s working with Mike Salzarulo and Ryan Owens on that project.

The childhood friends share a mutual love of beer, dabbling in home-brewing and trading beers across the country, before deciding to come together on Protagonist Clubhouse.

The Ohio natives chose the Queen City, where Owens has lived for the past seven years, to launch that venture.

“We picked Charlotte, and particularly NoDa, because it’s a friendly place. The city is buzzing, with new people showing up everyday,” Owens says.

The taproom will feature 20-plus taps, inclusive of brews from Protagonist’s two-barrel system as well as diverse options hand-selected by Protagonist’s own Advanced Cicerone — still to be announced.

The Clubhouse will dial in on CO2/Nitrogen blending, serving temperature and special glassware to highlight brews.

“Our goal is to offer an elevated beer-tasting experience. Elevated means offering curious beer drinkers every opportunity to expand their palates and knowledge,” said Salzarulo.

Innovative infusions and craft cocktails are planned as well.

There also will be a menu of small bites and signature food items. Plans call for highlighting local purveyors with an evolving menu.

James Craig with Lat Purser represented the landlord on the lease, and William Haygood of The Nichols Co. represented the tenant.

Roby Commercial is the general contractor. AvroKO and Cluck Design Collaborative have been named as architect.