'I can see the road ahead:' Raleigh's Dram & Draught expanding to Durham, Cary, Wilmington

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- 2020 was bitter year for bar owners.

Executive orders kept pushing back reopening and, once they got the green light, there were restrictions against staying open late.

A couple small business owners decided during the pandemic not to dial back on business, but double down.

Dram & Draught has a prime location in downtown Raleigh and is now expanding.

The first to open is in downtown Durham.

"There's a big back bar," said co-owner Kevin Barrett. "There's a lot of real estate back there that's going to be full of mostly brown liquor."

The owners still need to get some items, but the space has pretty much been done for a while.

"Last spring, almost all of this was finished," said Barrett.

The owner held off on a grand opening. The timing just wasn't right with capacity restrictions and the cold weather.

Things are looking brighter now.

The Durham location inside the chesterfield building is opening this summer.

"The restrictions are getting less. People are in a better mood. The weather helps, everything helps," said Barrett. "We're getting to that point where having a grand opening for a new bar kind of makes sense and people are a little more festive and ready to celebrate."

Dram & Draught is also getting ready to open other locations in Cary and Wilmington.

The decisions were made during the stay-at-home order.

"(My partner and I) sat around and said, 'You know, this too shall pass and if it doesn't, we're kind of screwed anyway' so we started planning for the future," said Barrett.

The expansion comes as so many restaurants and bars are struggling to rebuild the workforce.

Dram & Draught hopes that, by the time doors open at the new spots, that problem too shall pass.

"I can see the road ahead so I feel pretty good about it," he said.

Bars can now operate at 50 percent capacity and stay open until 2 a.m.

Barrette says, as a result, sales in Raleigh have shot up 100 percent.
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