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‘A thousand details’ coming together for Norton cidery’s August opening

Mike Still • Jul 12, 2019 at 2:02 PM

NORTON — “It’s a thousand details,” Jennifer Bailey said of bringing together everything needed to open the Sugar Hill Cidery in Norton.

Almost two years after Greg and Jennifer Bailey considered branching out from a successful brewery and restaurant in St. Paul, the cidery is at the point where cider making tanks are ready for installation in the back of a former car dealership. A cooler, freezer and cold room are almost finished, and the restaurant’s paneled dining room awaits polishing of the concrete floor.

Some kitchen equipment has been delivered to the Park Avenue location, and the Baileys are getting ready for a job fair from noon to 4 p.m. on Friday where they hope to line up the 55 employees they say they need to get the cidery ready to open before Aug. 17.

“August 17 is key because we want to open in time for the High Knob Outdoor Festival,” Greg Bailey said.

While things like getting tables and furniture for the dining room demand attention, Jennifer Bailey said the cidery is now past some important regulatory hurdles.

“We’ve got our federal Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approval to make cider,” she said on Thursday. “We still need to get Virginia ABC approval, but that comes when the city health inspector gives their OK. There were no objections from the (ABC permit) comment period.”

An oddity of the cidery’s ABC licensing requirement is that Jennifer Bailey owns and runs the cidery, while Greg Bailey owns and runs the brewery.

Jennifer Bailey said she also gave final approval for the cidery’s signage design, and kitchen equipment installation should start in about a week.

As workers were polishing the cidery tank room floor, City Manager Fred Ramey said the city is doing its own work outside Sugar Hill.

As part of the city’s ongoing downtown revitalization project, crews have begun digging up old asphalt from what used to be the former car dealership’s sales lot. That work will provide 45 parking spaces and an outdoor event area to supplement the event center and farmers market building behind the cidery.

Ramey said the exterior project will be completed around December, although parking spaces in front of the cidery should be ready by opening day.

The cidery tank room has windows on the dining room and on the farmers market, and Ramey said that provides an attraction for the market and other events.

A red primer-colored ceiling, a polished concrete floor and paneling from recycled pallets carry over from the interior at the Sugar Hill Brewery in St. Paul.

Jennifer Bailey said she is planning for two soft openings in early August to gauge customer opinion and to get employees ready.

While cider production may not be ready for the opening, Greg Bailey said customers will be able to select from the brewery’s beers and well as a good guest cider.

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