The Weeping Radish, the first microbrewery in North Carolina and in all of the Southeast, has officially changed hands. Sumit Gupta, of SAGA Realty & Construction, acquired the landmark, a restaurant, brewery, and butcher, from owner and founder Uli Bennewitz, in a deal that closed last week.
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."
Acknowledging that it is not everyday that a real estate developer acquires a microbrewery, he said that when he and his partners first learned that the institution was up for sale, "We leapt at the opportunity. 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. 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."
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.
A refresh and expansion of the space has been tentatively set for some time in 2022, with The Optimum Group 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, the Northern Virginia-based organization counts more than four decades in the industry, and has an unmatched passion for working with independent, locally-owned restaurants.
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.”
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."