Hilltop Inn owner says Barton Distillery wants to buy building

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By Randy Patrick

Emile Hawkins, owner of the former Hilltop Inn at 402 Cathedral Manor, said Friday that Barton 1792 Distillery wants to purchase the building, which has been a bar and restaurant since the 1940s, and he thinks the company wants to use it for a restaurant because he was asked to leave the tables and chairs and other furniture in place.

“Barton’s is in the process of buying it,” Hawkins confirmed Friday in a phone call. “They’re getting the paperwork done now.”

Hawkins said that no money has changed hands but he has “made a deal” with the company.

“We have an agreement,” he said, adding that he expects to close in about 35 days.

He didn’t say how much he was asking for the little two-story brick building.

“It’s an old building,” he said, and guessed that it’s probably about 2,000 square feet. But it has a big lot that adjoins the Barton property behind it and on the south side.

In fact, there is a large bourbon aging warehouse right next to the old bar and restaurant.

Earlier in the week, Josh Hollifield, the visitor center director for the bourbon distillery, which is owned by Sazarec, said he could “neither confirm nor deny” that the company is buying the building to either relocate its visitor center there or turn the building into a restaurant.

Hollifield, when told Friday that Hawkins had confirmed the agreement, said he still couldn’t talk about it because he doesn’t have any details, and he said John Caldwell, vice president and general manager of the distillery was out of the office Friday for the holiday weekend, and would not be available for comment before Tuesday, he said.