Mark and Jennifer Napolitano have strong ties to the U.S. Coast Guard — so strong the couple named their new craft brewery the AVDET Brewing Company, which is short for a military “aviation detachment.”
The Napolitanoes plan to open their craft brewery — Elizabeth City’s third — in a portion of the Kenyon Bailey Supply building at 407 McArthur Drive. The couple settled on the location because it needed less renovation work and it allows the brewery to have an outside patio.
“The outside patio was pretty attractive,” Mark Napolitano said.
The couple began renovation work around the first of November. Mark, who’s been in the Coast 28 years, said they hope to pour their first beer around the end of February.
If that works out, AVDET Brewing will open just prior to the inaugural U.S. Coast Guard Marathon and Half Marathon which are scheduled for the first weekend in March.
“There are going to be a lot of people in town for the marathon,” Napolitano said. “Being that we are Coast Guard, that is kind of important to us.”
Some of the ongoing renovations include putting in a new floor, installing a floor drain in the brewhouse and new paint. The couple is doing a lot of the work themselves.
“It’s not going to be huge, we are keeping it small,” Jennifer Napolitano said of the space. “It is a very intimate location.
The addition of a third brewery means the city can market itself as a craft beer destination, said Visit Elizabeth City Executive Director Corrina Ruffieux. She also said it will increase overnight stays in the city.
“Three (breweries) means we can have a craft brewery trail,” Ruffieux said. “People absolutely travel for food and drink experiences. The great thing about that is it is repeatable. If they have a great time they will come back.”
The Napolitanoes’ journey to open the brewery started a year ago when they asked City Council to amend the city’s zoning rules to allow microbreweries outside the Central Business District.
City Council approved that request last February after the city had only allowed breweries downtown. The zoning change will allow microbreweries in General Business, Highway Business, Light Industrial and Planned Unit Development-Mixed Use districts.
Those zoning districts are also where bars and nightclubs are allowed in Elizabeth City. The zoning change requires microbreweries to have the same parking standards as bars, taverns and nightclubs that are outside the Central Business District, which has no parking regulations.
The brewery submitted a special use permit application with the city on Sept. 23 and the city’s Board of Adjustment gave final approval for the brewery on Dec. 21.
The Napolitanoes said last February they requested the zoning change because there were no suitable locations downtown.
The city’s other two craft breweries — Ghost Harbor Brewing and Seven Sound Brewing — are both located downtown. Ghost Harbor has been open since 2017 and Seven Sounds opened last month.
AVDET will have a 3½-barrel production system that is capable of producing 450 barrels of craft beer a year. The Napolitanoes already had most of the brewing equipment paid for when they sought the zoning change, with all of it being stored in the couple’s garage.
Mark Napolitano has been home brewing beer since 1994 and will be the brewery’s head brewer.
“We are going to brew all types of beer,” he said.
Plans call for the brewery to be open seven days a week, from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., with five or six employees.