When Mark Cook left the journalism business after a career that spanned more than three decades and several states, it was to pursue his other passion: beer.
Cook, who moved with his family to Franklin in 1995, retired as the managing editor of Home Page Media Group for FW Publishing in the summer of 2019 to focus on opening Hop House Tennessee Taps & Tapas. He plans to have a soft opening this weekend.
The beer hall is located in Franklin’s Five Points across 5th Avenue from Starbucks and will serve 30 Tennessee and six regional beers from tap, as well as a non-alcoholic craft beer option.
A kitchen will also serve tapas-style plates with charcuterie, nuts and olives, and seafood. Cook said he is working with Daisy King of Miss Daisy’s Kitchen to develop Tennessee-specific tapas for the menu.
The storefront has been used as a coffee shop and, most recently, an office for cloud services provider Site Ox.
Cook had to completely revamp the space, installing drainage, a refrigerator room, taps and a hand-crafted wooden bar top, as well as refinishing the walls.
The veteran newsman remembers drinking Sierra Nevada IPA for the first time in Oxnard, California while he served in the Navy.
“Then I realized there was a lot more to beer than Bud and Coors and that stuff,” he said.
A move to Oregon opened his eyes to good wine and beer, and he began brewing at home for fun. After a stint in Guam, Cook ended up in Tennessee and began brewing again.
A few years ago, a layoff from Gannett’s Tennessean led him to re-evaluate his next career move. His love for homebrewing led to the opening of his first beer store in Spring Hill, Wild Hare Beer Co., in 2014.
He evolved the store from a tobacco and beer joint into an eclectic beer store which also served food, but, while working for Home Page Media Group in 2018, Cook sold the store.
“I think we were the debut of comprehensive craft beer in Spring Hill,” he said. “I got to know a lot of people in Spring Hill, delightful people who wanted to have some of the amenities they saw in Nashville.”
When Cook saw a “For Lease” sign on the storefront in downtown Franklin, he knew it was time to try the beer business again.
Working with his family is part of the draw. His wife, Margaret, and son, Ken Sizemore, a Franklin High School graduate, are both heavily involved in the business.
Cook also appreciates the close-knit brewing community within the industry.
“Even the competitors work with each other,” he said. “I’ve found that to be really refreshing.”
Hop House Tennessee Taps & Tapas is located at 117B 5th Ave. N. in Franklin. Its hours are Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 8 p.m.