Lexington Beer Garden That Beat Church's Legal Challenge Is No More


A business that recently won a high-profile legal battle won’t open in downtown Lexington after all.

Navy Yard on Main, the prospective biergarten and restaurant at the corner of West Main and North Church that beat a challenge to its on-premises beer and wine permit from the neighboring St. Stephen's Lutheran Church, announced via social media Monday that the project is permanently suspended.

“Nearly two years ago, we began our journey to bring Navy Yard on Main to the Town of Lexington’s historic Main Street corridor. We’ve faced immeasurable challenges every step of the way, built a number of lifelong friendships, and learned more than we could’ve ever imagined,” reads a letter attributed to Navy Yard’s managing partners Gavin Smith, Matthew Pace and Cody Cook.

“Despite overcoming each obstacle, including a historic victory in South Carolina Administrative Law Court, we are saddened to share that our project has become financially unviable, and we have made the very difficult decision.”

Navy Yard beat the challenge to its beer and wine permit in December, and work to ready the site continued into 2022. 

The restaurant posted to social media about laying concrete footers (Jan. 22) and uploaded a picture of a concrete slab where it said “kegs of beer will be sitting here soon” (Jan. 27), but has since been quiet online.

The Chronicle did not receive a reply to a March inquiry about when the biergarten might set an opening date.

“This has been a very difficult decision for us to make, and one we have tried to find creative ways to avoid,” the letter states. “However, considering a 37% increase in the overall costs of our project, paired with recent inflation, unprecedented supply chain shortages and staffing challenges, and economic indicators signaling a potential recession, we believe this is the responsible decision to make.”

The letter does not attribute the project’s financial challenges to the legal case.

The Chronicle reached out to Navy Yard for comment but hasn’t received a reply.

St. Stephen’s, located immediately behind the biergarten’s prospective location, claimed in its challenge to Navy Yard’s permit that it could lead to “intoxicated customers leaving the proposed location and loitering on Church property, 'trashing' the Church’s parking lot, using drugs in the Church’s parking lot, vomiting on the Church’s property, continuing to 'party' in the Church’s parking lot after hours, engaging in sexual activity in the Church’s parking lot, sleeping or passing out in their cars parked in the Church’s parking lot, or vandalizing the Church’s cemetery,” according to Administrative Law Judge Shirely Robinson’s ruling.

The ruling states that the church could provide no factual evidence for these claims.

The Chronicle reached out to St. Stephen’s for comment but hasn’t received a reply.

Navy Yard’s letter closes stating the partners’ “hope that as one door closes, another shall open.”

“We are Lexington residents, and we believe in and love this community,” it says. “We’ll be rooting for Main Street’s success, and we’re here to support each of you as we work together to build a better Lexington.”

The biergarten site is located at an increasingly active downtown intersection. Icehouse on Main, a new privately developed building being built as the final piece of the town's Icehouse Amphitheater project, broke ground last month directly across the street. Alodia's Cucina Italiana is located across West Main Street, Nicky's Pizzeria is located across North Church Street, and the Lexington outpost of Craft Axe Throwing sits on the opposing corner of the intersection.

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