New taphouse to open in Jacksonville

Mar. 15—JACKSONVILLE — A local air-medic turned businessman says he hopes his vision for a new taphouse on Jacksonville's square will prove to be a relaxed, family-friendly environment.

Josh Stearns, 41, of Jacksonville, is the owner of the Apothecary, which opens this Friday at 6 p.m. by reservation.

Patrons of the venue can discover over 42 variations on a self-serve tap, with 36 beers and six wines. Stearns said the business will also rotate some kombucha, cider and other such things every now and then.

Of those 42 taps, Stearns said he's working with both regional distributors and also local brewers to deliver an experience that is best of both worlds.

With live music on the weekends, a limited menu with things like charcuterie boards, indoor-outdoor dining options, and rotating food trucks in the back, the Apothecary will have an abundance of options for those needing a relaxing experience.

"We've done our best to create a really inviting space and somewhere that people can feel safe and comfortable and have a good time," Stearns said.

Stearns said he wanted to steer away from a "bar" type vibe. As a member of the Jacksonville Merchants' Association, Stearns shares the same family-friendly idea as many of the businesses in the association.

"We put some extra effort into not being age restricted. We had to jump through some extra hoops to get specific types of licenses," Stearns said.

Stearns said that he wanted to make sure he jumped through those hoops to make everyone feel welcome, not just those with babysitters.

The building needed a lot of work to get it looking as modern and sleek as it does today. Stearns said he and his construction team tore out the drop ceiling and stripped the plaster off the walls to expose the bare brick.

By the end of renovation, the team had removed 18 construction dumpsters of material from the building.

However, Stearns said he does not have a construction background and has worked in the medical field for all of his adult life.

After working as a respiratory therapist right out of high school, Stearns was then a paramedic until 2016 when he began working as an air paramedic with a team out of Carrolltown, Ga.

Stearns did have a little experience, however, as he'd recently bought and renovated two other buildings on the square.

"The first building that we did was the Shabby Stick building across the street. Mellissa's [Stearns' wife] has her shop in one side and then the other side is Memphis hair studio where my daughter works," Stearns said. "And then the second one was Redbird."

While Stearns' wife and daughter work across the street, he said his son works at The Redbird Coffee shop next door.

The buildings and business projects started out as a small side project that has grown into a major business venture, Stearns said.

"When I bought this building, I had no idea what I was going to do with it."

Though he didn't know what he'd do with it at the time, his vision has grown and expanded to what it is today.

And while his heart is still in the air with his helicopter medic ventures, Stearns said he is hoping one day in the near future he will be able to devote more time to the taphouse.

Staff Writer Ashley Morrison: 256-236-1551. On Twitter: @AshMorrison1105.