Former Firebrand Grandstand Now a Tune-Filled Public Room
24 Aug 2022
When Brian Edmonds retired in 2019 from a 30-year career as a government bond trader on Wall Street, he didn’t imagine the next stage of his adult life would unfold not far from where the first one started.
Brian and his wife Kathleen were married at the Inn at Mystic three decades ago, before they settled in Fairfield and raised five kids. When he retired he knew he wanted to stay in Connecticut, and he already was familiar with the livability of southeastern Connecticut, where family members still lived. “A charming area, with an awful lot of potential,” he said.
Together with long-time friend Keith Bunovsky, a farmer in western Connecticut, they began exploring the benefits of and products created by cannabidiol (CBD), the compound found in hemp plants that is associated with a variety of health benefits. After opening a CBD store in Westport in October 2019, Edmonds said they began looking for a facility to do their own CBD extraction and product creation. “We wanted to grow hemp, sell CBD products, and build our New England Hemp Store brand,” he said.
Craft Beer, Live Music, and CBD
While looking for locations Edmonds spotted the old Poquonnock Bridge Firehouse, which closed in 2013. It was only after he purchased the building, though, that he saw its full potential. Behind the old fire engine bays in front was a large main room with a high, wood-beam ceiling and built-in stage in the rear. Though he got different opinions from some local historians, Edmonds believed it had once served as a Grange for the largely agricultural community that developed along the Poquonnock Plains.
Inspiration struck Edmonds to create “a modern-day Grange,” a home for community events and entertainment. “We’re trying to blend that idea of community,” he said, “with the idea of being a viable business.”
CBD Products Aplenty
The Barn opened the week before Christmas last December. It’s a bright, welcoming space featuring by a roomy bar area in front and the performance area in back, encompassing more than 2,000 square feet in total. Accessible both through The Barn and a separate exterior door is the CBD store, which sells a range of CBD products such as tinctures, lotions, rub oils, edibles and even pet products to help alleviate pain, inflammation, stress, anxiety and provide better sleep.
Edmonds’ initial focus at The Barn was establishing a beer brand, which they’ve done with Barn Brew Co. Its two craft offerings available on tap are Haze For Horses IPA and Farmers Lager. Both will be distributed in cans to liquor outlets in at least four Connecticut counties beginning in September.
“The key to me is making sure we have really good beer,” Edmonds said. “And our brewer makes excellent beer he said proudly."
A Home For Happy Feet
Since opening the Barn has featured live, streaming music on many nights, which Edmonds hopes to expand to five or six nights a week (The Barn is closed on Monday, but the CBD store is open daily 11 a.m.-6 p.m.). Tribute band Mystic Dead plays on the first Sunday of each month, and Edmonds said he would like to add some Southern rock and country bands to the current lineup. “I want danceable music so people will get up and go,” he said. “When we get a hundred people in here you’re at an event.”
Looking ahead, Edmonds thinks The Barn can help unlock the potential he sees in this underutilized section of Groton. “It’s a very walkable area,” he said, noting the Poquonnock River Walk that stretches from just beyond The Barn’s parking lot to the entrance to Bluff Point State Park. “We’d like to be part of bringing more economic activity to this area. It’s a pretty cool spot.”