September 22, 2022 By Vaseline

Plains Taproom co-owner defends business model, council votes to approve

JOHN WEST

Auburn City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a new “family-style” drinking establishment in downtown Auburn after the owners explained their business model.

The Plains Taproom, a self-pour bar proposed by Auburn residents Dion Peoples, Justin Alexander and Scott Brown, was approved by the Auburn Planning Commission on Sept. 8.

At the time, Alexander said the business was “more family-like as we don’t serve spirits.”

Given the bar’s self-pour system as opposed to customers being served by waiters or bartenders, this comment raised some concern in the Auburn City Council.

“Do we have anything to show that this is being advertised as a family place?” asked Councilman Tommy Dawson. “I want to make sure we’re not promoting this drinking establishment as something for underage people.”

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Peoples was in attendance and addressed Dawson’s concerns, initially acknowledging Alexander’s comment that The Plains Taproom would be family-operated.

“It’s a place where you can bring your kids and feel comfortable, not underage drinking,” Peoples said. “It’s more of an ‘everyone is welcome.’ You don’t have to feel like you’re in a – dare I say it – SkyBar or some kind of low-rise slum-style bar. It will be high-end, high-tech.”

Peoples said soft drinks would be available.

“It’s by no means an alcohol daycare,” Peoples said. “It’s more of a place where people with young children can feel comfortable bringing a family, have a few drinks, eat something and not feel any outside pressure.”

Peoples said the use of license scans, radio frequency identification cards at dispensers and staff to monitor customers would help deter underage drinking.

“It’s actually safer than a traditional bar,” he said.

The council voted unanimously to open The Plains Taproom.

Peoples got the idea while visiting a self-serve in Orange Beach, and began researching possible locations in Auburn and the technology needed.

He shared the idea with Alexander. They each have a daughter with Down syndrome, and their families became close friends about eight years ago.

Alexander thought it sounded “amazing,” and both men asked Scott Brown, who owns a homebrew shop in Opelika called Whistle Stop and Brew, to join them as co-owners.

Brown said he’s “seen and briefly thought about self-cast locations” for his Opelika store. He also thought it was “the right kind of venue and space for Auburn.” He jumped on board.

They plan to have a small stage for live acoustic music and also serve food at the facility.

The Plains Taproom is located at 200 West Glenn Suite 200, near the Tropical Smoothie Café and the Waffle House in downtown Auburn.