By Melissa Gute
Posted: July 12, 2016 at 1 a.m.
BENTONVILLE -- The 8th Street Market will see Bike Rack Brewing Co. open in December and Northwest Arkansas Community College's culinary program begin classes in the spring semester, according to a news release.
Construction is underway to transform the former Tyson plant at 801 SE Eighth St. into the 8th Street Market. The project sits on about 10 acres in the Bentonville Market District.
It "will be a modern exchange of food, farm, culture and community offering visitors unique experiences to share meals, explore ideas and better connect," the release states.
Newmark Grubb Arkansas, The Velocity Group and Community Development Corp. are developing the market. A company backed by members of the Walton family is paying for the project. The Walton Family Foundation last year awarded three grants for the project: two worth $6.7 million to the college to develop and outfit the program and one worth $8.4 million to the Community Development Corp.
Bike Rack Brewing opened its first location in The Hub on Southwest A Street in 2014. It's in the Bentonville Arts District.
"Each of the buildings will take on their own specialty," said Steve Outain, Bike Rack Brewery co-owner.
The taproom at 410 SW A St. will allow the brewery staff to work on new styles and seasonal offerings, whereas the new location will allow them to expand with new packaging and to widen distribution, Outain said.
The Planning Commission approved a permit for the brewery's second location in June.
The brewery will encompass about 7,000 square feet inside and include a nearly 2,000-square-foot outdoor seating area, according to the release. Its current location is about 950 square feet, according to Outain.
It will be neighbors and partners with NWACC's culinary program, Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food. The college's program will lease 27,500 square feet of the 65,742-square-foot building.
The culinary program will be expanded to include culinary nutrition, artisanal food, beverage management and food entrepreneurship.
Classes will begin at the 8th Street Market in January, according to the release.
Brewery officials have been working with culinary program officials on curriculum development for its Cicerone Certification Program, Outain said.
"Cicerone" designates hospitality professionals with proven experience in selecting, acquiring and serving beers. It is to beer what a sommelier is to wine.
Arkansas ranks low when it comes to the consumption of craft beer, Outain said.
Microbreweries still often see their lightest beers as their top sellers, but Outain said he's starting to see people's pallets change. Beer quality improves through education, and his brewery will be able to play a role in that through its partnership with Brightwater, he said.
Construction on the 8th Street Market began in September and its "initial completion" is scheduled for "later this year," according to Kirk Gober, project manager, who sent information through a public relations spokesperson.
The project is a culmination of several local and regional initiatives, said Daniel Hintz, owner of The Velocity Group.
The Market District was created as part of Bentonville's Southeast Downtown Area Plan, which was adopted in 2014. The Northwest Arkansas Regional Food Assessment study was published in July 2014.
Bentonville has received attention from national media outlets such as The Washington Post,New York Times and Los Angeles Times for its growing culinary scene. The James Beard Foundation also has been involved and given recognition to some Bentonville restaurants.
"This is sort of a physical manifestation of a lot of different efforts that have been circulating for some time," Hintz said.
The mission of the project is to "move forward conversation of food and culinary as economic development, workforce development and just experience development for Northwest Arkansas," he said.
Brightwater brings an educational element and will be one of the anchor tenants. The idea is to have ancillary tenants supporting Brightwater's curriculum while taking into account the regional food assessment and market to make the 8th Street Market a place of experimentation, play, learning and food, Hintz said.
The market's exterior will have a place for food trucks and other tent spaces while the inside will have smaller spaces for entrepreneurs to launch new concepts, he said.
"It really is a launching pad for the next level of where food can go in Bentonville and in Northwest Arkansas," he said.
More announcements on tenants will be coming in the next six to eight months.
NW News on 07/12/2016