Thirsty Monk announces promotion, plans for expansion beyond Asheville

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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ThirstyMonkBreweryPub1Press release below. Disclaimer: Chall is my friend and I’m very happy for him and his new role with Thirsty Monk and its owner, Barry Bialik, who I admire both as a businessman and as a former journalist.

I think this is worth noting in regards to the news for Chall, as well as for the line that notes “plans for expansion beyond our Asheville home base.” Last year, Thirsty Monk expanded had its biggest year ever since opening in 2008 in downtown Asheville. The business opened a new speakeasy above its downtown location, as well as a big new location at Biltmore Park complete with speakeasy and brewing operation.

The Monk is currently working on opening a north location at Reynolds Village. When asked for more detail about the expansion, Gray said the Monk plans to open one or two more Thirsty Monk bars outside Western North Carolina in the coming year.

Press release:

Thirsty Monk recently created its first ever Vice President position, and Chall Gray, whose title had been Entrepreneurial Project Manager, has been granted this new corporate title.

“Chall has proven himself to be an incredibly valuable member of the Monk team, and I’m elated to share some of the Monk decision-making and leading process with such a talented fellow,” said Barry Bialik, Thirsty Monk Founder and President. Gray, a native of Western North Carolina, is well-known in the area as an entrepreneur and theatre and music producer.

“We’ve been hard at work over the past year assembling what we consider the ‘Dream Team’ of Asheville pub management, and Chall has been an integral part of aiding in our growth. As Thirsty Monk prepares for a busy start to 2014 with the opening of our fourth Asheville location in North Asheville, significant growth of brewery operations in South Asheville, and plans for expansion beyond our Asheville home base, the need for talented leaders such as Chall at the Monk became self-evident,” says Bialik.

Gray was very enthusiastic about the shift in managerial role. “I’ve been in and around Asheville for my whole life, and working at the Thirsty Monk with Barry is really the best fit I’ve ever had within a company.” Bialik concurred. “It’s rare for an entrepreneur and business founder to find someone with such a shared vision and spirit such as Chall. He gets it. We joke about the two ways to get your MBA experience—the university way and the get your ass kicked by starting a business way. We both went the latter.”

Thirsty Monk, Inc., one of Asheville’s fastest growing companies, currently operates three Asheville area pubs and a micro-brewery, and is sister company to the Compact Cottage Company, an Asheville-based new construction home company specializing in small-footprint, efficient, green-constructed homes.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Simson May 17, 2014

    The Thirsty Monk pretty much sucks balls nowadays. In a town where you can get good beer literally ANYWHERE, they are overpriced, have terrible food, and incredibly bad service.

  2. Shawl January 12, 2014

    The Thirsty Monk did indeed have a big year in 2013,
    and their downtown kitchen had a great summer and recorded the biggest food sales in October on record.
    As a response from Barry, all kitchen staff had their tip share cut by 2/3rds in November. In this day of kitchen staff being treated with respect and becoming living wage certified, such as Bouchon, White Duck, and Tupelo Honey; Barry seems more interested in throwing his staff under the bus.
    This is not how you run a business.

    1. Simson May 25, 2014

      Thus the super high turnover in their staff at all locations. No one wants to work for an asshole (or 2 assholes if you count the pretentious “vice-president”)

  3. Kara M January 12, 2014

    One of my close friends used to work at the Thirsty Monk downtown and I would get so worked up about how they treated their employees. One day they extended their hours and didn’t tell employees; they cut the tip share for cooks (who were running the food) by 2/3, essentially cutting their pay; multiple times staff were promised promotions and screwed over; and of course, no paid time off, healthcare, or any sort of benefits. As a business owner myself, I won’t expand my business without first taking care of the people I work with. For Barry, it seems to be the opposite – he’ll work you for as little as possible and promise you the world in his growing empire but they’re just empty promises for most people.

  4. Cheeves January 8, 2014

    I have seen patrons treated poorly at the Monk, especially those uninitiated to the craft brew scene. Some of their beer jockeys could do a much better job of being ambassadors of beer culture to those who are unfamiliar with the depth and breadth of options they offer.

    As to the coat/purse comment, I feel that the bartender’s role should be that of a catalyst for helping folks enjoy themselves. Like that of a host at a party. That means being engaged enough with their patrons to see if someone is uncomfortable asking someone else to open up a seat. Just about anyone can pour beer, but not just anyone can be a bartender. Those who do it well make it look easy.

  5. doghaus28815 January 7, 2014

    more arrogance from a place that really isn’t all that. good beer and all.but dang, arrogance from the staff. do me a favor and act like you are doing ME a favor by selling me a beer? might be a reason why a few people stay at home to drink. besides of cops. smash me and hate me, but, that was just my 3 times in that place on patton/coxe.

    1. Sean January 8, 2014


      I understand some of what you said….arrogance = bad. You lost me at “favor”.

      Cops and arrogance are why people stay at home to drink?

  6. hauntedheadnc January 7, 2014

    Hiss! They’ve become a… a… *chain*! Infidels! Drive them from downtown! Drive them out right now!

  7. Foothills Dweller January 6, 2014

    Just a note to the Thirsty Monk folk, if I’d seen two potential customers wandering about the pub on NYE at the Biltmore Park location before leaving 5 minutes later, I would have made an announcement that everyone needed to remove their coats and purses from the neighboring chair so they could sit and make purchases too.

    1. ashevillain January 7, 2014


    2. Eric S January 7, 2014

      @Foothills Dweller

      Why don’t you ask someone if they could move their coat? Simple as that.

      What happened to actually interacting with people instead of being a critic and putting the blame on the establishment.

    3. luther blissett January 7, 2014

      The Passive Aggressive Pinthouse, soon to open on the South Slope, may be your kind of establishment.

      1. Murphy January 8, 2014



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