Colorado gold-rush-era opulence with a level of lived-in comfort is how co-owner Jesse Van Note describes the aesthetic inspiration for The Whale Greenville, now officially open at 1108 S. Main St. on the street level of The Greene Apartments.
Upon entering the new taproom and bottle shop, it’s not difficult to grasp his intent. From the 23-foot ceiling hangs a plaster and metal replica sculpture of a 3-month-old whale, a crystal chandelier dangling from its center. Various taxidermy head mounts of moose, buffalo, and African mammals, along with the centerpiece oil painting of a whale and a vintage magazine owl print, decorate the cabernet-hued walls.
Not a big hunter, Van Note says he views the animal mounts as art.
“It’s a great way to pay homage to them,” he says.
This second location for The Whale – partners Van Note and Andrew Ross opened the first in Asheville, North Carolina, in 2017 – is a blend of the original’s darker and more compact style with the new construction’s more open and spacious character.
Blond ash wood tabletops and slat benches balance dark metal legs and accents, and heavy black curtains frame the large windows flooding the space with natural light.
Van Note says he could’ve gone the route of a black ceiling with track lighting, but chose, instead, to use black and gold pendant lighting over the bar for a more luxurious feel.
The back half of the 2,400-square-foot space, the ceiling drops down to half the height with a restored, competition-style pool table at the rear, a mirror mosaic of The Whale logo reflecting light onto the green felt.
Artists Dennis Flux, Shawn McDonald, and Amelia Betts
The space is designed for baseball fans, the upstairs apartment dwellers, and the downtown after-dinner crowd to feel comfortable. Private events will be a focus, as well.
The West End location, only about a block over from the entrance to the Village of West Greenville, is the first of many more retail and restaurant locations on South Main Street that will form a connection between the two areas. Additional vacant retail spaces are available in The Greene and also in the newly completed Homewood Suites by Hilton across from Fluor Field.
The Whale beer philosophy and concept is also designed for the local beer community to feel comfortable with their entrance into the market – The Whale isn’t here to compete with the breweries, but, rather, to introduce new beers to Greenville, Van Note says.
The taps will be on constant rotation, with only a few local beers and collaborations in the mix.
“If you like that beer, you should go to the brewery and buy it,” he says.
Because of the rotating beer list, Van Note is keeping his staff small to ensure they’re all equally as knowledgeable about the beers they’re selling. Right now he has eight employees and is looking for more with their Cicerone Level 1 (beer server) certification or at least with the experience and knowledge to pass the certification test.
A small staff means fewer bodies to work the floor, so Van Note chose to keep service at the bar.
The beverage menu also includes wine, mead, saki, and non-alcoholic options, with a rosé on tap, always.
Food designed to pair with beer, such as create-your-own cheese-and-meat boards, will eventually be added to the menu, but the focus is on the beer program for now.
The Whale is open 2-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-midnight Friday-Saturday, and noon-10 p.m. Sunday.