TIFTON — Michelle Green and her wife, Jackie Green, have been dreaming about owning a restaurant for two decades now.
And while Jackie has worked in the restaurant industry for all of that time, their dream never got very far until recently.
“We just put our dreams on hold,” Michelle said.
The couple ate out in Tifton often, but they just felt like something was missing.
“There’s not a lot of places for the older, upper-class, middle-aged people to go,” Michelle said. “It was lacking. There’s places for young people, but there wasn’t an upscale environment that we wanted.”
So they decided to do something about it. For the past eight months, they have working hard to make their longtime dream, now called Tift Tap House, a reality.
The Greens have gone all over the state searching out craft beers to offer at their tap bar, and at the beginning of this month, they began working to transform what was the Bistro and Giggles in downtown Tifton into their vision of an upscale restaurant with 41 craft beers on tap (six or seven of which will be from Pretoria Fields Brewery in Albany), gourmet food, a premium liquor bar and a cigar bar into a reality.
They were originally going to be in the building beside the Bistro, but after eating at the Bistro one day, they just knew that it was the perfect spot for their dream.
“When you walk in the door, you can just see the history of the building, and that’s important to us,” Michelle said. “This building is perfect for our vision, and so the Bistro people were here. We came in and made them an offer to buy their business, and they sold. They didn’t shut down.”
The restaurant will offer a unique concept in both food and atmosphere. As Michelle explained, the food will not be like the food in other restaurants in the area, with their Chicago upside down pizza (made in a bowl upside down and flipped right side up at the table) and their IPA chocolate cake (make with one of the IPAs on tap), just to name a few.
In addition, Michelle said that the restaurant will have no TVs, which most people think of when they think of a local bar or pub.
“It’s quiet, low-key music, and it’s a place where you can hold business meetings, a place for ideas,” Michelle said. “It’s a place that you can come and actually enjoy.
“We call our customers our friends. There won’t be the word customer used at all in the restaurant. Our employees are our family, our customers are our friends. We want it to be a gathering place.”
However, for sports fans, there will be a TV on the patio area in the back.
Michelle also said that having locally- and Georgia-grown products is important as well, which is one of the reasons they were so drawn to having beer from Pretoria Fields. They have even started the application process to be certified “Georgia Grown.”
“I’m from Georgia, why would I not want to support Georgia with everything I have?” Michelle said. “You can order (things) online, you can even order food and have it delivered. All that’s great, but local is where it all started before we could do all those things. When you lose sight of that, then you’re just off base. You have to go back to your roots. You just have to.”
The restaurant, which is located at 221 S. Main Street, will officially open at 4 p.m. on Saturday, just in time for Tifton’s Rock the Block celebration downtown, which kicks off at 6 p.m.
After all these years and all the hard work of the past few months, Michelle said she could not be more excited.
“It’s like now we’re finally able to see everything we’ve dreamed of,” she said. “I honestly don’t have words. It’s a dream I never thought would come true.”