Beer at the heart of business, road trip

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Changes are brewing for Casita Cerveceria as the Vermont-founded craft brewery relocates to eastern North Carolina this summer.

“We brewed our first batch of beer on July 4, 2015, and on July 4, 2017, we’ll be starting our Full Circle Brewing Tour,” said Casita co-owner Mahalia Breen. “We met in North Carolina in 2007, we got married in 2009, then we lived in Denmark, England and Vermont, but now it is all coming full circle back to North Carolina.”

Breen, older sister to local attorney Rhyan Breen, grew up in Wilson and admits she was eager to leave.

“Wilson is my home, but growing up here, I could not wait to get out of this town and see the world, but when you’re out in the world, there is always a part of you that yearns for home,” the 35-year-old woman said. “That is what coming back means to us. We’re hoping to establish our business here and stick our roots back in the ground because we’ve been in the wind for a while.”

The transition won’t be immediate, though, as she plans to hit the road with her husband and master brewer, Ryan Witter-Merithew, along with their 5-year-old daughter. Starting on Independence Day, the trio will travel to 26 states in 28 days.

Witter-Merithew plans to do collaborations with breweries along the way, including American Solera, La Cumbre, Modern Times, Sante Adairius, Jackie O’s and Intangible Ales. Breen said once the beers finish brewing, Casita will purchase kegs and share the creations with fans in eastern North Carolina.

The 36-year-old brewer has been developing craft beers for more than a decade, including time spent at Duck-Rabbit Craft Brewery in Farmville, where Casita will be operating once the family returns from the open road.

“My husband is a very skilled brewer who has had the opportunity to brew and drink all over the world,” Breen said. “His style of brewing is flavored by those global experiences.”

For more information on Casita and to follow the Full Circle Brewing Tour on social media, visit www.casitacerveceria.com/.

Expanded Relaxation

When Tawanda Auston set out to provide spa services in Wilson, she founded Five Touch Spa & Salon to cater to all five senses. That mission hasn’t changed despite outgrowing her original location and nearly doubling the salon space with the recent acquisition of a ground-level space.

Auston said she’d developed a lengthy list of clients who struggled to climb the stairs to the second-floor spa at 2403 Wooten Blvd. for services. As the service list also grew for the business, it became clear to Auston that expanding to the first floor of the business plaza was the solution.

Since opening the space in April, clients have received massages, facials and nail services. Auston said she is working to expand the downstairs space to offer haircare services as well.

The expansion also allowed Five Touch to add several new services to the menu, including Thai massage and several steam therapy treatments. The Steamy Wonder — which is $35 for an individual session or $30 when added to another service — is a tented steamer that Auston says aids detoxification and metabolism while clients lay on a massage bed.

A 30-minute V-Steam session can provide women with an all-natural approach to menstrual cramps, ovarian cysts and other feminine issues, according to Auston. Clients disrobe from the waist down and sit on an open chair, shrouded for comfort over a customized herbal concoction.

Auston said the steaming treatments complement the benefits clients get from massages and other Five Touch services.

“People think massages are just about pampering, but it is more than that,” she said. “I’ll have people who come in and they can’t move their arm or they walk in with a limp. It just makes me feel good all over when I can help people look and feel good.”

For more information about Five Touch, visit www.fivetouchspa.com/.

Extra! Extra!

An effort to add a fast-food option for travelers on U.S. 301 is ahead of schedule. Officials said the Hardee’s at the intersection of the historic thoroughfare with Forest Hills Road will be open for business at the end of July, instead of the original August deadline.

Demolition of Griff’s Steak Barn took place in March and crews moved quickly to erect a Hardee’s, which was founded in the 1960s in eastern North Carolina. Boddie-Noell Enterprises spokesman Rick Rountree said the second Wilson location of the burger business will provide dine-in and drive-thru options for locals and visitors alike.

Hiring for about 60 hourly employees as well as managers is ongoing with applications and information available at www.bnejobs.com/.

In other development news, a sold sign has gone up at the corner of Ward Boulevard and Corbett Avenue. The city of Wilson made the $200,000 acquisition recently through Our Town Properties in connection with the completion of a Parks and Recreation Master Plan. The long-term planning study identified the need for an entrance to Toisnot Park and the J. Burt Gillette Athletic Complex.

A timeline has not been set for the project, but Parks and Recreation Director David Lee said the corner site likely will include signs as well as space for an expanded skate park or a dog park. Personally, I’m optimistic about the latter.

Got an idea for news to include in next week’s Main Street Minute? Don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 252-265-7821 or bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com.