New owners of Weeping Radish plan to continue tradition, expand offerings

The new owners of Weeping Radish Brewery, North Carolina’s first microbrewery, plan to expand the operation while continuing the tradition started on the Outer Banks 35 years ago.

Sumit Gupta of SAGA Realty and Construction closed on the purchase last week of the brewery, restaurant and butchery located in lower Currituck County from founder Uli Beniwitz.

In a statement released Thursday, Gupta said he was thrilled to help “preserve” what he referred to as “so much more than a place to eat and drink,” calling the Weeping Radish “a touchstone for the community” and “a second home for so many of us.”

SAGA, which many know as the builder and developer of luxury beach houses and real estate developments along the Outer Banks, has been expanding into other business ventures such as restaurants in recent years.

Gupta acknowledged it is not everyday a real estate developer acquires a microbrewery, but he and his partners “lept at the opportunity” when they first learned the Weeping Radish was up for sale.

Sumit Gupta, CEO of SAGA Realty and Construction.

“It really was a no-brainer for us. Uli is a legend in this industry, and to see this brewery and restaurant still going strong after four decades is so deeply inspiring, and a testament to his incredibly hard work and amazing foresight,” Gupta said.

“I am so honored and pleased to announce that he will be continuing on with us as a minority partner. We are excited to extend the success of the Weeping Radish, and to build upon it — setting it up for the next four decades and beyond,” Gupta said.

A refresh and expansion of the space has been tentatively set for some time in 2022, with The Optimum Group of Fairfax Station, Virginia, joining The Weeping Radish team in the effort.

One of the premier hospitality firms on the East Coast, with consultants spanning a range of fields, Optimum has more than four decades in the industry, “and has an unmatched passion for working with independent, locally-owned restaurants”, according to the statement from SAGA.

Among the changes fans can look forward to are a greatly expanded brewery, a larger array of locally pastured meats, and a new biergarten, including covered tables for outdoor dining.

As well, Bennewitz’s founding vision of “farm-to-table” will be expanded to include “ocean-to-table.”

“For over three decades we have pushed the envelope on what was possible for a small business,” Benniwitz said in a post Sunday on Facebook.

“From changing the law allowing brew pubs in North Carolina, building the first brewery and butchery, using exclusively sustainable local pork in our restaurant, to growing barely for our beer on our own farm, this has been a dynamic chapter in our lives that we will look back on with great pride,” Benniwitz said.

The brewery was founded in Manteo next to The Island Gallery and Christmas Shop in 1986. But the much-loved Manteo location was just too small and ground was broken in 2001 for The Weeping Radish Farm Brewery on the Currituck mainland.

Despite the best efforts of over a dozen regulatory agencies, a restaurant, butcher’s facility and farm as well as a larger brewery were constructed and the first batch of beer was brewed four years later in Grandy, according to the Weeping Radish website.

“Sumit Gupta and his team at SAGA will lead the Weeping Radish into its exciting new future,” Benniwitz said. “We are thrilled to see how they build on the pioneering legacy of the Weeping Radish and take it to new levels.”

More from the SAGA announcement:

Among brewers in the state and in the region, The Weeping Radish is widely acknowledged as a pioneer, having set the path for all the breweries and brewpubs that followed; today, it is joined by 339 others in the state, affirming the original vision of the twenty-something Bennewitz, who came to North Carolina more than four decades ago from Munich, Germany, where breweries have long flourished.

Nor was it simply Bennewitz’s vision for a brewery that was revolutionary. At a time when no one was talking about farm-to-table — when the vast majority of restaurants were relying upon ingredients trucked in from half a country away — Bennewitz made “local” and “sustainable” a point of emphasis. Four decades ago, few restaurants in the state or country did their own butchery; Bennewitz saw it as simply the right thing to do. The Weeping Radish retains that program today and remains an inspiration for the legions of chefs who have followed.

Gupta and the team added that it was important to them that as a “beloved local institution,” its many fans in the Outer Banks and across the state be kept abreast of the process, and to expect regular “behind-the-scenes glimpses” and updates on the work-in-progress as this “living legend enters what promises to be an exciting new chapter.”

.
About Sam Walker 1415 Articles
Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 WCMS and Z 92.3. Reach him at swalker3@jammediallc.com