Revelry in Recovery

Hendersonville’s first “sober bar” will open on Grove Street

Hendersonville’s new “sober bar” is fun and trendy but not intoxicating. It was started by Hope Coalition Executive Director Julie Huneycutt (center), pictured with business partners Katie Jenkins, left, and Karie Martin.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

The buzz is building in Hendersonville about plans to open Henderson County’s first sober bar, part of a movement that’s sweeping the country. “In Henderson County alone, we have over 25 breweries, cideries, and wineries, with more coming every day,” says Julie Huneycutt, executive director of Hope Coalition. “That’s great for the county and residents, but we felt like there also needed to be an alternative for people to gather without alcohol.”

The Buzz, A Social Sober Bar & Café will be located in a 4,000-square-foot building that was most recently a fitness center, just a few doors down from Hope’s recovery community center on Grove Street.  The Buzz is a project of the nonprofit which originally started through the Partnership for Health in 2013 to address the opioid epidemic in the area. Huneycutt became involved after losing her 20-year-old daughter to an opioid overdose and says the organization has grown considerably in a decade. “We formed to address the epidemic and promote prevention, and it really grew through working with youth and adults. Now we have expanded into the recovery aspect.”

Photo by Rachel Pressley

The recovery center at 101 South Grove Street hosts multiple meetings for all ages, genders, and interests throughout the week (including Stitches of Hope for knitters and crocheters), with resources and education for those in recovery and those supporting them.

The Buzz, says Huneycutt, will be modeled operationally after other sober bars in the country, such as Sans Bar in Austin, but with a grown-in-Hendersonville aesthetic. “When I was younger, the building was an open-air apple-packing facility,” says the almost Henderson County native. “It has beautiful industrial bones, is big enough to have a coffee café on one side for all ages, and a sober bar on the other with a more adult vibe.  We want the bar side to have a bit of swank that invites people to have a date night there.”

Photo by Rachel Pressley

Huneycutt says there will be plenty of outdoor seating, room for food trucks to park and serve, and even a drive-through window for the coffee side. They plan to offer live music, poetry slams, trivia nights, and other interactive events.

With the explosion of non-alcoholic beer, wine, and spirits, as well as elixirs, botanical beverages, and creative mocktails, there won’t be a lack of options behind the bar, either. Huneycutt reveals there’s been lighthearted discussion about naming some of The Buzz’s mocktails after city and county officials. “We’re thinking of The Mitchell Mule after our county manager John Mitchell, and a Volka Tonic for Mayor Barbara Volk.”

To be clear, Huneycutt says the name of the bar is not a reference to the altered state alcoholic beverages can produce. “We’re calling it The Buzz to reflect a collective hive mentality of people coming here for common goals, to socialize soberly, have fun and ‘bee’ in community.”

The Buzz, 225 Grove St., Follow on Facebook (“The Buzz”) for news about crowdfunding, opening date, and operating schedule. 

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