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The Daily Tar Heel

Community rallies to save YesterYears Brewery

David Larsen. the owner of YesterYears Brewery, from Pensacola prepares kegs with freshly brewed beer.
David Larsen. the owner of YesterYears Brewery, from Pensacola prepares kegs with freshly brewed beer.

“Theoretically, the doors should be closed because we’re on borrowed time,” Stember said.

The campaign supports the brewery’s owner, David Larsen, whose leave of absence after his son Bill Larsen’s death in November has affected the brewery’s sales.

Larsen said he only came in five times between November and January and he was unsure of whether he wanted to continue the business, as the brewery was originally supposed to be passed down to his son.

“It’s the last place I saw my son alive,” Larsen said.

When the brewery’s regular customers heard about the financial trouble, they immediately wanted to help.

“I’ve never felt as connected to a community and local business as I have at YesterYears,” said Aspen Gutgsell, one of YesterYears’ regular customers. “We got to watch this place grow from the beginning.”

Another customer, Fabio Urbina, said the atmosphere of YesterYears is a home that extends outside the walls of the brewery. He said there were many times Larsen invited him into his home or let him brew his own beer.

“It’s a place where you go and sink your roots into,” he said.

Regular customers at the bar include neurologists, land surveyors, yacht salesmen and scientists.

Larsen helps support the community as a sponsor for a number of charity events, such as Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and the Jordan Lake School of the Arts. He once decked out the brewery in rainbow flags while raising money to support those affected by House Bill 2.

“When I contacted David (about sponsoring a bicycle race) he was super receptive and didn’t hesitate to offer his support, even though he was in the early stages of getting YesterYears off the ground,” said Dominic Ciavatta, who donated to the fundraiser.

YesterYears began with Larsen’s vision of a brewery with a 1950s theme that focused on connecting locally-produced beer with friendships and memories. He contacted his son, Bill, who was living in California at the time, and started talking to him about moving to Carrboro to begin the process of opening the business together.

“When the regulars got wind of the financial trouble they wanted to help and take charge,” Larsen said. “We wanted to (stay open) in honor of my son looking down on us.”

Several regular customers talked about Bill Larsen’s warm smile and cheerfulness. One customer, Alex Guseman, said Bill’s hospitality extended outside the bar and into the community.

Bartender Cynthia Burkins said that hospitality is an important part of what makes YesterYears unique.

The brewery has 10 days to raise the the rent money before it must close, Larsen said.

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