Plans approved for Common Grounds Plaza in Kennesaw

Renderings of restored Whistle Stop building and the plaza with Dry County Taproom on the right.Renderings of restored Whistle Stop building and the plaza with Dry County Taproom on the right. (screenshot from Kennesaw City Council Zoom meeting)

Downtown Kennesaw could soon have a new gathering spot for food and fun now that plans for Common Grounds Plaza have been approved.

Dale Hughes submitted the Central Business District project application for 2861 and 2871 N. Main St. in January, but said the idea first formed in 2012. Along with his wife Cindy, and sister-in-law Rene Fowler, he intends to restore the former Whistle Stop Restaurant to serve as a cafe and will construct an adjoining building for the Dry County Brewing tap room and restaurant. The project includes plans for an open plaza fronting Main Street, which will be used for musical performances, poetry readings and art displays.

According to the business plan Hughes submitted, the former doors and windows of the Whistle Stop building will be restored, while the new tap room will be constructed in an early 1900s style similar to the Colliers building on the same block.

“We want people to gather and find out what they have in common so that they can enjoy our community,” Hughes said at Monday’s city council meeting.

The Kennesaw Downtown Development Authority approved the project Feb. 9. The Historic Preservation Committee gave conditional approval Feb.19, requesting detailed architecture and landscaping plans for approval. Kennesaw City Council approved the plans Monday 4-0. Council member James Eaton was not present as he was out of town.

“This corner [Main Street and J.O. Stephenson Avenue] has been identified for many years as the ideal redevelopment opportunity,” Zoning Administrator Darryl Simmons said.

The Hughes family has lived in Kennesaw since 1989 and owns several local businesses, including The Nest, Apotheos Roastery, Gabriel’s Restaurant and Bakery, the 1808, and Jeremiah Consulting.

In the submitted business plan, Hughes wrote, “As part of our common area maintenance, the owners and operators will create a fund that sets aside money for the community. Each of these businesses has actively participated and shared in the hope and the future of nonprofits like Mostly Mutts, MUST, the Kennesaw Teen Center and Bottleshare. That will continue.”

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.