An opportunity to become part of what they characterized as exciting changes at Volusia Mall prompted a couple from Tennessee to recently sign on as tenants.

Kevin and Suzy Martin agreed to lease an endcap storefront space in one of the new retail buildings planned on the site of the soon-to-be-demolished Sears Auto Center in front of the mall.

The Martins plan to open a franchise location for a popular Knoxville, Tennessee-based chain of "craft beer markets" called The Casual Pint.

The Volusia Mall location will be the chain's first in Florida.

Kevin Martin describes The Casual Pint as sort of a "Starbucks for craft beers," a place that offers a big selection of craft beers and "finger foods" in a relaxed, upscale setting.

The couple recently relocated here from Knoxville to be closer to one of their daughters and her husband who live in New Smyrna Beach and are employed as teachers for Volusia County Schools.

"We came to Florida with plans to open a Casual Pint franchise," Kevin Martin said, explaining that he and his wife were fans of the chain as customers.

"I love The Casual Pint," he said. "It's got a very relaxed atmosphere and they try to bring new varieties (of craft beers)."

Kevin Martin is also an accountant who recently landed a job with a company in Orlando, which he plans to continue to hold while also running The Casual Pint franchise with his wife, who previously worked for 10 years in retail. The store will also employ a manager as well as two "beer-tenders," he said.

Martin said he has experience serving customers, as well, via his side job as a tax preparer for H&R Block on weekends and evenings during tax season.

The Casual Pint offers hundreds of craft beers, including a beer wall of a continually changing 25-30 beers on tap, and a "cold box" where customers can select beers to consume on premises or take home in six-packs or growlers. The six packs can be all the same beer of their choice or a mix-and-match of different varieties.

Martin said an emphasis will be placed on offering as many locally produced craft beers as possible.

The couple will also offer "crowlers — where you can fill (and seal) cans with your favorite craft beer," he said.

The "boutique bar," as Martin calls it, will also offer "finger foods," including wraps, mini flatbread pizzas, nachos and bratwurst sandwiches.

"Our primary focus will be on selling craft beer," he said, adding, "We're not a full-blown restaurant."

Martin said he and his wife considered locating at One Daytona, the new entertainment/retail/dining complex that International Speedway Corp. is developing across the street from Daytona International Speedway, a block west of Volusia Mall, but said they were told that ISC's lease agreement with Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery barred them from adding a competing craft beer pub.

He said he and his wife used a market research firm that does work for The Casual Pint chain to evaluate potential locations for their franchise and chose Daytona Beach in part because of the surge in commercial development, especially along the West International Speedway Boulevard corridor, as well as the area's reputation as a tourism destination, thanks to the World's Most Famous Beach, as well as the Speedway.

"We wanted something close to the Speedway," he said.

With One Daytona not an option, the couple chose Volusia Mall, which is set to begin construction of a three-building retail complex on the site of the former Sears Auto Center. Martin said it is the first of several changes planned at the mall, which was built in 1974.

Martin said he and his wife were impressed with the enclosed mall itself.

"If you walk through the mall, it's pretty full, not like some malls that have a lot of empty storefronts," he said.

Martin said he and his wife recently put a house under contract to buy in DeLand.

"With all the building that's going on at One Daytona and the changes at Volusia Mall, it's exciting to be in on the ground floor," Martin said.

Clayton Park can be reached at clayton.park@news-jrnl.com or at 386-681-2470.