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Groton — Brian Edmonds started out with an interest in hemp and CBD, a nonintoxicating compound extracted from cannabis plants, and ended up with something much larger: a “modern day Grange” with live music, craft beer and a CBD shop.
“Farmers are lonely people, and they built Granges to have places where they could socialize and hold gatherings,” he explained Saturday from behind a soon-to-be-cut ribbon. The Grange was founded in 1867 as a national organization of local chapters that served as meeting places for the agricultural community.
It’s through this historical lens that Edmonds opened The Barn last week at 13 Fort Hill Road, formerly the Poquonnock Bridge Firehouse, which closed in 2013. He is honoring this history as well through keeping the original Poquonnock Bridge Fire Co. sign — hung over the camera he installed to livestream musical performances — and some fire gear.
The bar, adorned above with a row of Edison light bulbs, occupies the space where the front bay used to be. The Barn has a full liquor license and 16 beers — from local breweries like Outer Light, Grey Sail and Epicure — on tap.
There are also cans of the Haze for Horses IPA and Farmers Lager, two new beers brewed by a manufacturer for the establishment’s Barn Brew Co. brand. For now, these two brews are available only at The Barn.
Between the bar and tables, Edmonds said, there are about 75 seats, with capacity for more than 100 people.
The small menu features pizza and Bavarian-style hot pretzels, and Edmonds plans to have food trucks outside.
There’s an elevated stage for the performers, above which is a balcony overlooking the space. This isn’t yet open to the public, but it opens up to the roof — overlooking the Poquonnock River — where Edmonds plans to open a roof deck next year.
A lot of what the location is today has its roots in 2019. That’s when Edmonds retired, after 30 years of working on Wall Street in U.S. government bond trading. That’s when he and his wife, Kathleen, moved from Fairfield to Mystic. That’s when he started New England Hemp Farm with business partner Keith Bunovsky, a longtime farmer; they also have a shop in Westport. And it’s when Edmonds purchased the building that would become The Barn.
This was the year Connecticut licensed a pilot program for the cultivation of hemp. One of its uses is CBD, which Edmonds said can help with sleep, anxiety and inflammation.
He said a daily dose costs about $2 or $3; a month’s supply of CBD gummies is about $60. The hemp for the products is grown in Canterbury.
Noting that New England Hemp Farm has customers who are cancer patients and people with chronic pain, Edmonds said he thinks The Barn could host a great charity walk, especially given the fact that a boardwalk runs behind The Barn to Bluff Point State Park.
The Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon-cutting Saturday for The Barn’s grand opening.
“Brian, what you’ve done to this site is incredible, and I think it’s a legacy that will go on for a long time,” chamber President Bruce Flax said, adding, “Clearly it’s going to be a place where people congregate often.”
State Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, presented a citation from the Connecticut General Assembly congratulating The Barn on its opening. Also present were Rep. Christine Conley, D-Groton; Town Councilor Bruce Jones; and Groton Economic Development staff Paige Bronk and Sam Eisenbeiser.
Edmonds said he will have anything from country to ’80s rock bands. Somers suggested he have Big Lux, a hip-hop violinist from Westerly.
Edmonds is still working out exact hours but plans to have live music from roughly 7 to 10 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, with some acoustic music before that, and music on Sunday afternoons from the afternoon into the early evening. The Barn will be closed Mondays, and Edmonds is looking at holding an open mic night Tuesday or Wednesday.
Upcoming scheduled performances include Stone Country Band on Jan. 8, and Ken and Rickie on Jan. 9.
The Barn also hosted a comedy night Sunday through the organization Comedy Craft Beer, and Edmonds plans to have more comedy nights.
To view the event calendar, visit barnct.com/events.