Our team is made up of handpicked industry veterans whose backgrounds and passions have helped build Elkmont Exchange into such a unique concept for Knoxville, and beyond. Check out their bios to learn more.
Alex has a biochemistry degree from Maryville College and began his brewing career at Smoky Mountain Brewery shortly after graduating in 2007. Before long, Alex’s passion took him from Knoxville to Colorado, where he worked his way up to a Head Brewer position at Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder. During his time at Upslope, Alex oversaw brewing operations and recipe development for over 100 beers. Five of these recipes are medal winners at The Great American Beer Festival, one of the largest beer competitions in the world.
In 2014, Alex took a massive leap of faith, moving to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to open the country’s first American style craft brewery – Pasteur Street Brewing Company. Since the brewery’s opening in late 2014, it has been wildly successful with a tasting room and restaurant in the center of the bustling city. Pasteur Street received a Gold Medal at the prestigious World Beer Cup for its Chocolate Stout and is currently expanding its global distribution, which includes the United States.
Alex and his beers have been featured in articles published in BeerAdvocate, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Outside Magazine, The Denver Post, Travel and Leisure, and The New Zealand Herald, along with many others.
In his spare time, Alex enjoys backpacking, fishing, and spending time with his family; including his toddler daughter that can be seen running around Elkmont Exchange from time to time.
Ryan grew up in Knoxville before attending Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina to study Food Service Management. Moving into the kitchen, Ryan began his career at one of the South’s first progressive fine dining restaurants, Magnolia’s in Charleston. It was here that Ryan learned to value the importance of sourcing locally and making a commitment to sustainability.
From Charleston, Ryan found himself as a Sous Chef at Nashville’s Flyte, where he refined his management skills and mastered whole animal butchery. In 2015, he joined Alex in Ho Chi Minh City to develop Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s culinary program and oversee tasting room operations. It was in Vietnam that Ryan was able to expand his culinary knowledge working with fresh and exotic ingredients that are not readily available in the United States.
While Elkmont Exchange was in its concept planning phase, Ryan kept his skills sharp at EMILIA in Market Square. He has incorporated many of his past experiences with fine dining, ingredient sourcing, and animal butchery into creating approachable, yet world-class, menu for Elkmont Exchange.
In his spare time, Ryan enjoys playing music, disc golf, and watching movies with his girlfriend and infant daughter.
As a Colorado native, it was always second nature for Bethany to be enthusiastic about craft beer. While managing a local bakery in Boulder, she discovered the neighboring Upslope Brewing Company and quickly became familiar with the company’s beers, brand, and employees by trading pastries for pints. When Upslope was preparing to open a new tasting room in 2012, the obvious choice for Bethany was to make a career move and join the industry she had become so fond of. She started as a bartender, yet she would help with brew days or on the packaging line in order to expand her beer knowledge.
After her first year at Upslope, Bethany was promoted to Events Coordinator and Marketing Assistant. In this new position she learned the amount of focus and consistency that is required for a brand to distinguish itself in the overwhelming craft beer industry. As Event Coordinator, she organized a variety of events for the brewery; including beer releases, live music, and private events. She also assisted the Marketing Manager with merchandising, social media content, and promotions.
In 2014, Bethany moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with Alex Violette to found Pasteur Street Brewing Company. As Brand Manager, she initially managed the development of the new brewery’s identity and logo. She would work closely with local Vietnamese designers and artists to implement Pasteur Street’s vision into interior design and digital media. Upon opening, Bethany managed the brewery’s social media profiles, press releases, and the company website.
In her spare time, Bethany enjoys crafting, camping, and being outdoors with her toddler daughter.
Chris graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Reinhardt University in 2005. Shortly after, he moved to Atlanta, where he quickly became familiar with the city’s rapidly growing SweetWater Brewing Company. He began volunteering at SweetWater’s infamous 420 Festival which eventually led to a position on the packaging line. Chris was promoted to Cellar after a year of employment; it was in this position that he learned more about the fermentation process and his passion for craft truly began to form.
Chris aspired to become a brewer and decided to take up the hobby of homebrewing to coincide with his cellar work. He quickly learned the trade and was offered a Brewer position in 2012. After spending a few years mastering SweetWater’s large scale brewhouse, Chris advanced to Lead Brewer. In this position, Chris spent significant time training a steady stream of new hires, developing future recipes on the pilot system and assisting in creation of a barrel-aging/souring program. As a result of the barrel program’s popularity, SweetWater constructed a full-scale sour facility, named The Woodlands, which opened to the public in January 2016.
Chris attained a Degree in Advanced Brewing Science & Engineering from the American Brewers Guild in 2016. The same year, he was awarded as Sweetwater Brewing Company’s Brewer of the Year.
In his spare time, Chris enjoys music, hiking & traveling with his wife.
Jon Newman graduated with an Applied Arts and Food Science degree from Grand Rapids Culinary College in Michigan. His passion for working in the kitchen started at a very young age when he began working for a local pizza shop in his hometown of Jenison. He quickly adapted to the fast paced environment and controlled chaos of the industry. The skills that Jon acquired in the kitchen fueled his motivation to explore a career in Food Service.
After graduation, Jon started working at Cypress in Charleston, South Carolina; where he met Craig Deihl, a fourth-generation butcher. In this position, Jon was exposed to the world of charcuterie and decided to focus his passion for cooking into the craft of butchery and aging meats.
From Cypress, Jon was given the opportunity to work with The Neighborhood Dining Group in Charleston at McCrady’s, where he advanced to Sous Chef, and eventually became part of the opening team for Husk. It was here that Jon began to understand the importance of developing a relationship with local farmers.
Jon relocated to Nashville in 2012 and has spent his time working with Flyte, Husk, and The Southern with a strict focus on butchery and charcuterie.
In his spare time, Jon enjoys riding his Harley Davidson, cooking for his wife, and hanging out with his dogs.
JT Dewitt graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2002 and has been in the restaurant industry for over 20 years. He started his management career working with Darden Restaurants, one of the largest restaurant groups in the country. JT travelled the Southeast setting up and managing their restaurants for 10 years. It was with Darden that he recognized the importance of structure in a restaurant. Having a streamlined training process and consistency with a concept heavily contributes to a company’s success.
While JT was a General Manager at Red Lobster in Naples, Florida he decided to make a career move and join the local Bonefish Grill. He managed the Naples and Ft. Myers area before buying into the franchise in Madison, Mississippi. Taking on this new role helped JT find value in a fun and diverse workplace; one where both employees and guests have a great experience.
After seven years in Madison, JT was ready for another change and took an offer with EatHere Brands to open Babalu Tacos and Tapas in Knoxville.
In his spare time, JT enjoys hiking, playing pool, and eating sushi or chicken wings.
Evelyn Violette has spent her first two years of life surrounded by the craft beer industry. Born in Vietnam to parents Alex Violette and Bethany Lovato, she quickly became an honorary employee at Pasteur Street Brewing Company. She spent her time sleeping on tables and learning the family business.
After moving to Knoxville, she fell in love with nature and conceptualized Elkmont Exchange. She has been to almost every company meeting and makes the largest decisions.
In her spare time Evelyn enjoys hiking, swimming, and singing about bananas.