Davidson Depot & Taproom
By Bobby Bush
Fact is, Davidson Depot & Taproom is not located in an old train stop. That part of the
name is fiction. Following major renovation of a late 1800’s cotton mill, which just
happens to be near a railroad crossing, this restaurant/pub opened in May 1999. But the
latter portion of the name is absolute fact. Fifty-two tap handles- and not a one pouring
budmillercoors -grace the wall behind the Depot’s long, stained wood bar. Before we
were even able to pull stools from the bar, friendly bartender Joey was ready to serve.
[editor's note: Davidson Depot ceased business around 2001. The facility is now a Showmars. I'm told they have a "good" beer selection].
But it took a moment to decide, for there was Abita’s Turbo Dog, Johnson’s
Oktoberfest, Fuller’s ESB on a beer engine, Rogue’s Dead Guy, Mendocino’s Red Tail
Ale and many, many more. Full bar service, an impressive wine list and mouth-watering
selections of entrees- roast beef sandwich to handmade crabcakes to rack of lamb -make
this fledgling facility even more intriguing.
Partners Bob Williams and Tom Wiltshire have been extremely thankful for the
local support their new business has received. They’ve been busy hosting meetings,
post-game gatherings and parties, many from nearby Davidson College. It’s probably no
coincidence that the Lake Norman area, which also includes Huntersville and Cornelius, is
a growing upper class suburb to North Carolina’s most populous city, Charlotte. The
demographic breakdown for the Davidson region bodes ideal for an upscale place like
Davidson Depot. Almost 45% of the residents are between the ages of 25 and 54. Nearly
30% have incomes in excess of $50,000.
And what I like most is the emphasis Davidson Depot places on beer. According
to Williams, kegs turnover quickly, assuring freshness. And tap handles rotate regularly
with a variety of craft brewed and imported beers. Budmillercoors drinkers have only
bottles to choose from. The program is working. During a recent Red Stripe discounted
priced promotion, only about 25% of Depot patrons chose the nasty yellow Jamaican
swill, electing to pay more for a better, more flavorful beer.
On January 22, 2000, Tyrone Irby, president of BeerHunter.Org, a subsidiary of
the Southeastern Microbrewers Association, bestowed quite an honor on this fledgling
suburban establishment. Based on the results of a state-wide e-mail poll, Davidson Depot
and Taproom was anointed by the Durham-based beer-appreciation group with the first
annual Taproom of the Year award. Stiff competition from taprooms in the Raleigh,
Durham, Chapel Hill beer triangle and from more established western taprooms like
Barley’s, Olde Hickory and Atlantic Beer & Ice, made this a particularly sweet victory for
such a new (nine months at the time) taproom. Long live beer!
Davidson Depot & Taproom is easy to find- just follow the tracks. Better yet,
take exit 30 off I-77 and head east. Turn left just past the tracks and you’ll see the
Taproom straight ahead: 209 Delburg Street, 704/987-8800.
This article first appeared in Focus Magazine of Hickory, North Carolina.
© Bobby Bush