Business partners Joe Hobbs and Ronnie Maxwell are an unlikely duo. Joe is the hospitality guy with decades of experience who grew up in Atlanta where he learned the restaurant business from his parents. Ronnie is a banker with no restaurant experience, but he has always been an eternal optimist and wanted to own a business.
Barrel 131 in Uptown Jackson was not intended to be the higher end craft beer, wine, and spirits place. It just turned out that way.
“You want to grab lunch?”
573 How did Barrel 131 get started?
RM: Joe texted me one night and said: “You want to grab lunch?” Honestly, I thought he wanted me to join a club or some multilevel marketing thing! I was SHOCKED to find out he and Michelle wanted to offer my wife and me the opportunity to go into business with them. The idea was initially to open a coffee shop, but after a while, it developed into the idea of something else, something Jackson needed. Something people would enjoy.
JH: Ronnie and I were discussing opening a drive-thru coffee shop, and it evolved into Barrel 131.
RM: I always enjoy when someone asks me, “What is Barrel 131?” I always respond, “Well, it’s not a bar, or a restaurant, or a store, it’s all of them in one.”
JH: Barrel is a casual higher end craft beer, wine, and spirits place. We try to make sure people get good quality products for a fair price. We have a great little food menu that’s available all day long.
RM: Barrel 131 is more of an experience. We offer guests the chance to sit and enjoy a conversation. I love looking around and seeing guests talking to each other instead of sitting on their phone. We are the place to disconnect for a while. You won’t find a TV on or the music too loud. You’ll find an enjoyable atmosphere.
JH: Barrel is different because we strive to get people to talk to each other. We give people grief if they have their phones out. We are trying to create more of a social atmosphere that we think people are craving! Also, having a light food menu makes it a natural place to sit and enjoy your visit with a nice glass of wine, a beer or a craft cocktail that we have created.
Of course, they can’t do this by themselves. Ronnie and Joe readily acknowledge the people that help them out. They immediately give praise to their wives, Michelle and Jessica. Kudos also goes to Allison (Joe’s daughter) who is the manager and, Caleb, the assistant manager. The thing often heard about the Barrel 131 staff is their friendliness and product knowledge.
The selection of wine, beer, and spirits at Barrel 131 is ever evolving and deserves frequent visits (that advice from a sommelier) to appreciate fully. They have tastings of their various offerings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Check them out and tell them you read about it in 573 Magazine.
Written by B Noto
Pics by T Smugala