A desire to serve and cultivate a sense of community in downtown Jefferson has propagated in downtown Braselton.
Flourish Taproom, a newcomer to The 1904 and Jackson County’s beer and wine scene, aims to quell the local thirst for togetherness and belonging.
At the root of it all is husband-and-wife team Mike and Jessie Martin.
According to Mike Martin, Flourish mirrors Jefferson’s Revival Hall Taproom, which the couple opened in 2019 after he left a creative directorship with a church in Gwinnett County. Martin said they were figuring out their next steps and suddenly found themselves “getting a passion” for the city of Jefferson.
“We drove up there and we were like, ‘Man, this is it, let’s figure out how to serve this town really well,’” Martin said. “It’s the same thing with Braselton. I know it seems a little strange on its face, but we meet a secular need with some sacred energy.”
While Flourish offers 20 beer and 10 wine selections, Martin told The Times they’re not at the epicenter of who they are as a taproom, interestingly, but play a supporting role in a larger picture.
“We strategically plan events that give more to people than we ever take from them,” Martin said. “Our whole thing is using this space for good, strengthening community. Beer and wine, honestly, is really in the background of what we do.”
Aside from hosting live music every Friday and Saturday night without fail, Martin said Flourish will set the stage for comedy nights featuring high-profile comics across the Southeast, ballroom dancing for Valentine’s Day, “Bingo for a Cause” through which the taproom will fundraise for a local family in need, ladies- and couples-only nights and a signature event called “Dads on Tap,” where men will “come in, have a couple of drinks (and) learn something about what it means to be a better father.”
Parents to five children, the Martins have designed Flourish to be a family-friendly environment and intentionally set its hours of operation to reflect and preserve that.
“We close early — at 10 o’clock — to protect our family-friendly environment so that, when you bring your kids, you know 100% of the time it’s a safe place,” Martin said. “I want to create a space where I am completely comfortable with my kids being here running around. You’ll see that on a Friday night — it’s a very, very normal thing in this environment. At its root, having a kid in a bar is not really a normal thing, but here it’s very commonplace. I think it’s a learning curve for a lot of people, but for us, it’s just normal.”
Flourish also has an ample supply of non-alcoholic beverages so those who don’t fancy libations won’t be deterred from visiting the taproom.
“When you’re in this space, we treat you like we would treat somebody in our living room,” Martin said. “If you have somebody over and they don’t drink, you don’t say, ‘All I have is beer and wine.’ You say, ‘I’ve got Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, water, root beer, non-alcoholic beer.’ If you don’t drink beer and wine, we want to create a space that you’re still welcome to come and be part of.”
Upon arrival, patrons may notice an absence of TV screens — that’s also intentional, Martin said, though he’ll likely bring one out for Georgia football games.
“You can stay at home and have a glass of wine or a beer; what’s really special about coming out (to the taproom) is being around other people,” he said. “It’s easy to just stare at a TV when you’re sitting here. If there’s not a TV in this space, you engage in conversation, you hang out, you get to know people. At a restaurant, you don’t really sit down with somebody else who’s already begun their meal; it’s kind of rude or awkward. But in a taproom, you see somebody who walks in, you know them, it would be very natural for them to sit with you. It’s a very organic room … which is a huge part of why a taproom is so good for building community.”
And as people have been dealing with the social implications of COVID-19 for the better part of two years, Martin noted many are craving a sense of community, and Flourish stands ready to fill the gap.
“Being part of a community helps you flourish and come alive,” Martin said. “It’s our purpose. Getting people together, building community, it’s why we’re here. What would be the point of providing a space for a community that’s like a party? We’re just making money at that point, there’s no redeeming value. If we can provide a space that’s a healthy environment that does more for people, gives more to people than we ever take from them — that’s really rewarding.”
Across the hall, the Martins are working on what they’ve coined The Fishbowl at Flourish Taproom. Slated to open in late February, by day the flippable space will be a co-working hub for entrepreneurs, creatives, freelancers and other professionals who need a work station, boardroom, presentation capabilities and private meeting spaces; at night, the space will become event-centric, hosting corporate events and birthday parties.
Like Flourish itself, the vision behind The Fishbowl is one and the same: cultivating community.
“They show up to have a beer but then they realize that maybe there’s something a little bit more happening here,” Martin said.