One of the newest restaurants in downtown Tuscaloosa is permanently closing after a little more than a year in business.

As the Thread reported last year, the Grocery Brewpub moved into the former home of downtown's Mellow Mushroom at 2230 University Boulevard. The pizzeria closed back in 2017, reportedly over the already high and ever-climbing cost of rent, and the space went unoccupied for four years until GBP's grand opening last May.

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The brewpub was owned and operated by Rayford Cook, a long-time restaurateur who opened the first Grocery Brewpub in Homewood, Alabama in 2019 and brought the concept to Tuscaloosa last year.

Cook spent a considerable amount of time and money renovating and modernizing the downtown building and aimed to offer patrons a little bit of everything -- a southern-style scratch kitchen on the first floor, a high-end whiskey bar upstairs, pool tables and dartboards on the top floor, beers and mixed drinks served from more than five dozen taps -- the list goes on.

Even so, Cook said 13 months after the restaurant's grand opening, he has decided to close up shop in Tuscaloosa and focus on his family.

"I have always wanted to open a bar in Tuscaloosa. After thirty years, I finally made it back to Tuscaloosa and opened The Grocery Brewpub," Cook said in a statement to the Thread. "Over the last year, we have enjoyed so much success. The employees have been wonderful. The guests and the city of Tuscaloosa have helped to make this dream a reality and a much greater opportunity than I imagined."

"In April, I turned 50 and I've made the decision to step back and spend more time with my family," Cook continued. "This experience has been so gratifying, but it's time for me to focus on raising my daughters and watching them continue to grow up alongside my wife."

Cook also teased an upcoming announcement about what will come next for the iconic building in the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa.

"Fortunately, the perfect tenant with perfect timing will be moving into our location and I look forward to seeing them do great things at 2230 University Boulevard," Cook said.

For updates on what happens next in that space and for other exclusive coverage of restaurant and retail development news in the area, stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread.

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