Today we chat with Amanda & Matt Allen, owners of Pelagic Beer & Wine in downtown Raleigh.
This Q&A is a part of our series called interviews with locals where we interview local Raleigh business owners and entrepreneurs to share their story with our community.
Where did you grow up and go to school? How long have you lived in Raleigh?
We are both NC natives. Matt grew up in North Raleigh and attended Leesville High School. He went to NC State for undergrad and ECU for graduate school in Geology.
Amanda grew up in Charlotte and attended West Charlotte High School. Amanda attended UNC Chapel Hill and earned a masters in education (School Counseling) at UNC as well.
We met through mutual friends and have lived in Raleigh to be close to family and Matt’s “day job” working in Environmental Consulting.
How did you get into the industry you are in now?
Matt was a home brewer for years before we met. We formed Pelagic when we lived in Wilmington briefly where we hoped to open a brewery there.
Ultimately we moved back to Raleigh and decided to get into the beer scene by starting as a bottle shop that specializes in independent brands. We found our niche and have kept the bottle shop concept vs trying to brew on our own.
Give us your 30 second elevator pitch for your business?
We are a tiny neighborhood bottle shop in the North Person Street business district, nestled between Historic Oakwood and Mordecai.
We sell only independent craft beer and wine, specializing in small local and regional brands.
We have a passion for the environment and building a positive community, and donate more than 5% of our profits each year to organizations that support our values such as the NC Coastal Federation, Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC and local public schools.
Most popular product you sell?
IPAs are our most popular style of beer, but Pilsners/Lagers are making a big comeback. We also sell lots of craft cider these days as well.
Your favorite product you sell?
Wilmington Brewing Company beers. Tropical Lightning is a good go to, but we have a beer we helped brew with them called Touch Tank…a Double West Coast IPA we are getting around the Fourth of July this year.
We also started selling plants at Pelagic as well. We have a side-business called Salt & Cedar Flora which is offering tropical houseplants at the shop, and hosting pop up Plant Sales of Native NC perennials during the spring and fall.
What would a traveler learn about Raleigh by coming to your business?
Our store cultivates and celebrates a community environment where all are welcome. We have been described as the neighborhood’s “living room” as we serve as a gathering spot for the community.
We believe travelers would feel welcome into our community, sensing that it is a safe, open-minded place to share a beverage and conversation.
If you had a friend visiting, where in Raleigh would you take them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Best thing about living in Raleigh?
The convenience; having everything you need at your fingertips. We have everything we need within walking distance or a short drive from our house: grocery stores, schools, restaurants, bars, nature trails, museums.
Least favorite thing about living in Raleigh?
Construction, particularly big developments tearing down historic buildings/houses to build new. We wish there was more care and concern for preserving the old and ensuring affordable housing for all.
Can’t miss attraction in Raleigh?
Your favorite business in Raleigh that you like to frequent?
What excites you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10 years?
Meeting new people through our business. We have developed a great Pelagic community over the past five years, and we look forward to furthering those relationships.
What concerns you the most about doing business in Raleigh over the next 5-10 years?
Too much development too quickly. We are seeing some historic houses/buildings torn down to make way for high rises or new buildings.
We also are seeing families with lower income pushed out of communities they have lived in for generations because of the increased cost of housing.
We have genuine concern for what happens to these families when traditionally lower-income housing is bought by investors and turned into million dollar housing.
Which local Raleigh entrepreneur inspires you to do better?
Trophy Brewing. We like their spin off ideas and how they have created unique spaces, but that they all have an underlying Trophy feel to them.
What advice would you would give to someone wanting to start a business in Raleigh?
Pick the right location and be unique. Research the neighborhood to see what it is missing and what neighbors would be thrilled to see, then use your creativity to make it a unique spot that compliments the neighborhood.
What is your favorite thing about running your business?
The creative outlet it provides. We love being able to apply our hobbies and skills to building something that is unique and our own. It fills us with a sense of pride to build our business from the ground up and to constantly try new things at Pelagic.
Drink of choice? Where in Raleigh do you get it?
IPAs or Cider on draft at Pelagic, or Lattes from Yellow Dog.
Favorite getaway spot in North Carolina?
The beach. We love Oak Island, North Carolina.
When you hear the words “THIS IS RALEIGH” what comes to mind?
This is Raleigh makes us think of home. It reminds us of classic North Carolina, with old trees, nice weather, friendly people, and creative businesses.
Go say hi to Amanda & Matt and tell them This Is Raleigh sent you: