Beer Town: Tucker Brewing finally opens kitchen in spite of pandemic

CEO and co-owner Ashley Chapman Hubbard, shown in the Tucker Brewing kitchen window on opening night, had long dreamed of adding an on-site kitchen.
Contributed by Eliana Barnard, Tucker Brewing Co.
CEO and co-owner Ashley Chapman Hubbard, shown in the Tucker Brewing kitchen window on opening night, had long dreamed of adding an on-site kitchen. Contributed by Eliana Barnard, Tucker Brewing Co.

Credit: Eliana Barnard

Credit: Eliana Barnard

But co-owner and CEO Ashley Chapman Hubbard had long dreamed of adding an on-site kitchen to the mix, offering food to pair with the brewery’s German-style lagers.

In early August, Hubbard checked that box. And a recent hire, chef Nicole Fey, debuted her first menu, as the kitchen officially opened to the public.

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Owners Ryan Chapman and Ashley Hubbard Chapman, executive chef Nicole Fey and Tucker Mayor Frank Auman are shown at the Tucker Brewing kitchen ribbon cutting.
Contributed by Eliana Barnard, Tucker Brewing Co.
Owners Ryan Chapman and Ashley Hubbard Chapman, executive chef Nicole Fey and Tucker Mayor Frank Auman are shown at the Tucker Brewing kitchen ribbon cutting. Contributed by Eliana Barnard, Tucker Brewing Co.

Credit: Eliana Barnard

Credit: Eliana Barnard

Fey, a Florida native, earned a master’s degree in gastronomy from Boston University, and worked in restaurants in Massachusetts and Florida before moving to Georgia to develop the kitchen at Tucker.

“We definitely wanted to present a menu that was more elevated than what you would expect to find at a brewery or a bar,” Fey said. “And we wanted to focus on seasonal food, using local produce and meat, as much as possible. We’ll be changing the menu four times a year, and trying to keep it fresh, and unexpected.”

Fey worked at a wine-focused restaurant in South Florida, where exploring pairings was an important part of the job. And she was able to apply that experience to beer pairings at Tucker.

“I’m constantly thinking about how my food works with our beer, and how the beer complements the food,” Fey said.

For the fall menu, Tucker brewmaster Tucker Eagleson worked with Fey to create the pairings, including Thai coconut mussels with TKR Pilsner, and an autumn salad with Southern Heaven Hefeweizen.

Larger plates include the likes of pan roasted chicken with chorizo fried rice, lager-battered fish and chips, and a hefty cheeseburger and fries. And there are vegan and kid-friendly options, too.

“One of our biggest sellers so far has been the pork schnitzel,” Fey said. “We wanted to have a solid German influence on the menu, but we have the schnitzel with a seasonal set, which is going to change throughout the year.”

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Pork schnitzel with butterscotch carrot puree, cranberry conserva and sauteed greens.
Contributed by Eliana Barnard, Tucker Brewing Co.
Pork schnitzel with butterscotch carrot puree, cranberry conserva and sauteed greens. Contributed by Eliana Barnard, Tucker Brewing Co.

Credit: Eliana Barnard

Credit: Eliana Barnard

For her part, Chapman Hubbard said she’s not only relieved to finally have the kitchen up and running, but she’s really enjoying the food — especially a personal favorite, the crispy sauerkraut bites.

“It was such a long time coming, it kind of got to the point where you wondered if it was even going to happen,” Chapman Hubbard said. “But where we are right now has been great. The food is delicious and the presentation is awesome. And it’s such a great feeling to see the team that we have here hustling and making what we envisioned a reality.”

Tucker Mayor Frank Auman and his wife, Gaye Auman, at the Tucker Brewing kitchen opening.
Contributed by Eliana Barnard, Tucker Brewing Co.
Tucker Mayor Frank Auman and his wife, Gaye Auman, at the Tucker Brewing kitchen opening. Contributed by Eliana Barnard, Tucker Brewing Co.

Credit: Eliana Barnard

Credit: Eliana Barnard

With such a large outdoor space, and table service, it’s been relatively easy to follow social distancing guidelines, Chapman Hubbard said. But she is sometimes asked: “Who opens a restaurant in a pandemic?”

“The outdoor space has made people feel more comfortable to come and hang out,” she said. ”But opening during a pandemic has been pretty successful, so far. And I think with the food we have far surpassed people’s expectations.”

Beyond overseeing the brewery, and opening the kitchen during a pandemic, it turns out that Chapman Hubbard has been facing an even bigger, more personal challenge.

“You’re going through a pandemic, you’re trying to open a kitchen, and then you get the news that you have breast cancer,” she said. “Who at 39 gets breast cancer? Apparently, a lot of people do. And I’ve got a 3-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 10-month-old at home. So when you talk about a full plate, it’s really full.

“But what do you do? It was stage 1, and it was caught early on. For me, I’m kind of the mindset that it’s adversity, but I think with all adversity, it grows you and strengthens you as a person. And I’m not one to sit around and baby myself. I can’t change it, and I’m doing what I can to deal with it.”

Tucker Brewing Co., 2003 S. Bibb Drive, Tucker. 833-752-2400, tuckerbrewing.com.

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