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Strange Matter Coffee to open espresso bar, create gathering space

There's some strange brew coming to the East Side. And according to Lansing's latest artisan barista, she's serving up brew that begins with the essence of the bean.
Beginning in July, Cara Nader will open the doors to Strange Matter Coffee at 2001 E. Michigan Ave. The coffee bar, she says, has been in the works for about three years, and is a friendly collision of her two passions: science and java.
"Strange matter is a particular form of quark matter," says Nader of her business moniker. "It's a theoretical form of quark, often thought of as a liquid. It's a nerdy kind-of science thing."
Nader's confessed geekiness for science shapes her approach to brewing. Each cup served in Strange Matter, she says, will be made to order using one of several brewing devices. One device—the Chemex—extracts a clean cup of coffee through a drip filtering process. The Chemex, Nader says, resembles a science beaker, and is among contemporary devices featured in the Museum of Modern Art. Another system Nader uses—the V-60—involves a cone-shaped pour-over device that produces a quicker cup.
"We'll use a particular device to bring out different characteristics of the bean," says Nadar, who compares her coffee to micro-brewed beer. "Each device has its benefits and I'll be using one or another to highlight flavors."
Nader sources her beans from distributors like Populace Coffee who specialize in single- origin, seasonal coffee. She'll also feature a rotating menu of roasters from around the country, and a few varieties of chai tea.
"I like to focus on in-season coffee that's freshly harvested," she says. "We'll feature coffees from individuals farms and particular regions since not every region harvests at the same time of year."
Nader is currently replacing flooring, painting and putting in a espresso bar in the 1,500-square foot place that will seat from 25 to 30 people. And as business gets up and running, she hopes to bring two to three staff on board.
"I want people to sit and enjoy their beverage," says Nader. "Every coffee has it's place, and I want people to have that moment when they say 'wow, I didn't know coffee could be this good.'"
Source: Cara Nader, Chief Coffee Engineer, Strange Matter Coffee Co.
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Detroit Frankie's fires up outdoor kitchen for fresh, made-to-order pizza

Frank Tignanelli has gone from restaurants to backyards to city streets to make and bake the freshest pizza on earth.
"From the time you order to the time it's in the box it takes about seven minutes," says Tignanelli, a long-time Michigan restaurateur also known as Detroit Frankie. "And you're there watching me make it, watching it go into the oven. I even have people take pictures while it's baking."
In mid-March, Tignanelli started cooking his famous wood-fired pizzas for Greater Lansing in an outdoor kitchen on the corner of Cedar and Oakland, Monday through Friday. Passers-by can pull in, order pizzas to go from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and watch as Tignanelli hand-tosses the dough, sauces with fresh-packed tomatoes, and cheeses with whole milk mozzarella. Customers then choose up to four toppings from a list of 20 fresh ingredients, including meats, vegetables and fruits. Tignanelli completes the "old world charm" by cooking the 16-inch pizza in a deluxe wood-fired brick oven.
"I feed wood into the oven to keep it hot all day—about 750 degrees," says Tignanelli. "The crust gets little charred marks on the outside and stays chewy on the inside. You get a nice clean taste with all the fresh ingredients."
Tignanelli says he learned all about pizza from his dad "Papa Joe" while growing up in Detroit. In the mid-70s, he started in the pizza biz by working in family restaurants in central and Northern Michigan. In between restaurant gigs, he became an expert food distributor, then came back to his his true calling: creating and serving pizza. He bought the wood-fired brick oven, started catering, and began making and baking pizzas at festivals and events. When a friend suggested he find a weekday location, he staked out his current corner.
"I've owned and managed restaurants all over Michigan," says Tignanelli. "But what I always loved best was standing in front of my oven making pizza and talking to customers. And that's what I do now. It's like having a food show every day."
Source: Frank Tignanelli, Owner, Detroit Frankie's
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Retired executive revolutionizes wine cellar design with Revel Cellars

While he won't say who they in casual conversation, his customers include CEOs, venture capitalists and entertainers. And Forbes writes that his product is "the world's best," thereby adding to its cache.
It's a level of success, Jim Cash says, that's he didn't expect right off for his start-up business. But it's one he's been able to build thanks to the skills, craftsmanship and innovation he finds right here in Michigan, including support from the East Lansing Technology and Innovation Center.
In April, Cash moved Revel Custom Wine Cellars from the TIC to 435 E. Grand River Ave., signaling a new home for the company that creates wine cellar cabinetry for the discerning wine collector. It's cabinetry, he says, that provides a revolutionary way to showcase and protect prized wine collections, while bringing ease of access to wine cellar storage.
"Traditional wine racks are a matrix with individual cubicles where a single bottle goes," says the retired COO of Lansing's Christman Company. "I had a rack like that and had all kinds of problems from bottles not fitting to not finding the bottles I was looking for."
Cash drew on his love of wine and his nearly three decades of professional building experience to create cabinetry that involves sliding drawers, "lazy Susans" and dowels that leverage space and hold both bottles and cases. Customers can enhance the patented design with LED lighting, cellar doors, labels, and additional components for a system that combines form and function.
Cash coordinates sales and marketing from his new 700-square foot office, while the cabinets are built and constructed in western Michigan. His sales and management team includes two representatives based in San Francisco and Florida, and an operations manager in New York. His goal for 2014 is to build about 20 cellars at a cost of about $40,000 each. Long-term, he hopes to build and sell at least 50 a year.
"We're doing something that hasn't been done before," says Cash, who is a long-time wine collector himself. "There really hasn't been a design evolution in the way cellars are built. Essentially they've been built the same way for hundreds of years."
Source: Jim Cash, Owner, Revel Custom Wine Cellars
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Perfect Circle Recycling helps put waste to good use

Todd Wilson has never been shy about cleaning up and doing dirty work. In fact, he's building a business that helps haul away trash for a greener world.
Perfect Circle Recycling, Wilson says, gives residents an option for recycling food waste, leaves and grass clippings through a personal hauling service that connects with environmentally conscious reuse facilities.
"There is a lot of food byproducts that are being landfilled that could be repurposed," says Wilson. "I see it all as a perfect circle."
Wilson started his company in 2011 from his home in southwest Lansing with a little bit of ingenuity, a truck, a trailer and bins. Working with a partner in the composting business, he helped Central Michigan University initiate a system to recycle food waste into compost, renewable energy or animal feed.
Today, Wilson is focusing on building services back home in Eaton County and Delhi Charter Township. Beginning July 1, he plans to launch a weekly service that involves hauling food waste, leaves and grass clippings from small businesses, restaurants or residents to facilities that can repurpose the debris. Those facilities, he says, include composters, anaerobic digesters, compressed natural gas providers, or qualifying animal feedlots.
Customers signing up for Wilson's hauling service receive a three-gallon bucket for in-house use, as well as a 96-gallon roller cart. His service runs $10 a month. Customers who prepay for six months receive a 15-pound bag of premium compost, while those who pay it forward a year receive a 25-pound bag.
Wilson's short-term goal is to grow his customers to 100 or more this year and to divert at least 100,000 pounds of food waste from landfills.
"It's a way you can become a steward of your community and be involved," says Wilson. "Basically, it's just about being green."
Source: Todd Wilson, Owner, Perfect Circle Recycling
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Homeless Angels sets up home base for coordinating outreach

Jessep Magoon doesn't believe that everyone who holds up a cardboard sign and asks for help is doing so to support a drug or alcohol addiction.
That's why Magoon asked a friend to create a sign for his grassroots cause that helps redefine perceptions of the homeless.
In mid-April, Magoon's sign for the Homeless Angels found a permanent home in the window of their first brick and mortar office.
"It fit perfectly," says Magoon of the portable sign he has used for outreach events. "It was one of those fate things—that this place was meant to be."
Magoon co-founded the Homeless Angels with Mike Karl in November 2013. The idea, he says, is to provide a resource that bridges the gap between the homeless and local agencies.
Until April, the Homeless Angels was run from the streets. Volunteers met in parks, parking lots, churches or other supportive organizations to coordinate outreach and "street teams" to help Greater Lansing's homeless.
"Since the beginning, our big focus has been street outreach and building relationships with people who might otherwise fall through the cracks," says Magoon who is also a student at Lansing Community College. "But since we didn't have a home base it was hard to do client intake. We did everything by laptop and cell phone, and knew as we got more innovative we would need an office."
Directly across from the State capitol, the 900-square foot office at 328 W. Ottawa Street is easy-to-access, wired for Internet, has ample storage space for a food pantry and supplies, and is staffed by a core group of about 10 volunteers. There's even a washer and dryer on site to clean cloths or blankets for homeless clients. Rent, Magoon says, is funded by donations made through GoFundMe, with other services supported through community fundraisers and donations.
Magoon says his drive to build the volunteer non-profit is fueled by his past struggles with addiction. He finds inspiration, too, in the depth of understanding held by Karl, who previously lived on the streets.
"We know there are underlying factors and a story behind why people are homeless," says Magoon. "Our hope is to shed a positive light on a negative situation, and to show the community that the homeless are not just stereotypes, but people needing help to get them back into society."
Source: Jessep Magoon, Co-founder, Homeless Angels
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Galaxie Coffee Roasters fuels passion for artisan coffee in Greater Lansing

When Rick Carter takes to the streets in his bright red '63 Ford Galaxie 500, he's out for more than a classic cruise. He's delivering sustenance.
As one of Greater Lansing's new breed of micro coffee roasters, Carter ensures customers have the beans they need to fuel their week through local delivery or shipping.
"I have a route I run on Sunday mornings," says Carter who custom roasts coffee from his home after winding down from his full-time job. "But if someone needs coffee, I won't make them wait."
As the owner of Galaxie Coffee Roasters, Carter understands the love of java. His wife, Rachel, did too and bought him the small roaster for Christmas about seven years ago that started his adventure into roasting single-origin coffee.
Carter started out roasting one pound at a time for his daily brew, then began roasting for friends. Soon, his beans were all the buzz around his hometown of Mason. Energized by caffeine, he invested in a three-kilo shop roaster and began sourcing beans from Sweet Maria's and the Coffee Shrub—two coffee distributors that work directly with small farmers worldwide.
Carter launched Galaxie in September 2013. He has about 50 to 75 core customers for his seasonal varieties that feature beans from small farms in Guatemala, Sumatra, Yemen, Kenya, Colombia and other coffee growing regions. Coffee drinkers can also find a small selection of Galaxie artisan roasts through Best Sellers Books and Coffee Co. in downtown Mason.
In March, Carter worked with Bestseller's owner Jamie Robinson to host Galaxie's first public coffee cupping at the store. The event, Carter says, is akin to a wine tasting for coffee, and allows customers to sample and appreciate the full flavor of a particular brew.
"So many people just gulp coffee down on their way to work," says Carter. "My objective is to get people to slow down and smell the coffee."
Source: Rick Carter, Owner, Galaxie Coffee Roasters
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Cravings Okemos location brings new jobs, new popcorn mixes to area

Chad Jordan says he literally lived on popcorn when he first started working.
"I've always loved popcorn," says Jordan. "My first job was at a movie theater."
That kinship for the kernel led the East Lansing native to found Cravings Gourmet Popcorn in 2005. In two years, the specialty popcorn retailer moved from a small vendor space in the Lansing City Market to a storefront in historic Old Town. After seven successful years of creating flavors and blends for snackers with a yen, Jordan decided to expand east and open a second store in Okemos.
"We're excited to get going and start building our new location," says Jordan. "It's going to be a fun thing for the community."
Jordan announced the expansion in mid-February and has remained on schedule to open the doors at 1871 W. Grand River on June 1. The 4,600-square foot space near Dusty's Cellar will feature a sample bar that evokes instant "yums," as well as a viewing area where customers can marvel at the popcorn popping process. Like Lansing, Cravings Okemos location will carry unique and nostalgic bottled drinks including root beers, flavored sodas, or funky libations like coffee or bacon pop.

Jordan says his second store will create five to 10 new jobs, as well as new popcorn mixes that pay tribute to the community.
"We already have our Old Town mix of white cheddar and caramel," says Jordan. "So we'll probably have mixes for Okemos, Williamston and Haslett. And the East Side, too."
Source: Chad Jordan, Owner, Cravings Popcorn
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Go Green Trikes rolls out on Earth Day

Yvonne LeFave got rolling on her business while waiting for the bus in East Lansing.
"Traffic was backing up because of a delivery truck that had stopped to take in four loads of big boxes," says LeFave. "All of us at the bus stop were saying there had to be a better way."
LeFave set out to find it. Beginning Earth Day, LeFave will roll out Go Green Trikes—a local courier service for businesses that involves electric-assisted trikes. The trikes, LeFave says, are more nimble in traffic than many motorized vehicles and carry up to 600 pounds. Plus, they're quirky, eye-catching and fun.
"There's nothing else like them on the road," LeFave says.
LeFave's fleet of two can go up to 100 miles each at speeds of 15 miles per hour. The ELF—short for Electric, Lightweight and Fun—operates through pedaling and a solar-powered battery, and looks like a cross between a recumbent bike and a Smart car. Go Green's larger vehicle, the Truck Trike, resembles a small pickup truck on a bike frame and can carry up to 12 18-gallon totes.
Go Green's initial cargos will be made up of print items, food, and business-to-business supplies or products. And because it's Michigan, trikes will be on the road from April to November.
"I like green technology and the idea of living without a motorized vehicle," says LeFave, whose Quaker faith puts simplicity and stewardship top-of-mind. "I've wanted to show people what can be done without a car. And this does that."
Go Green Trikes will pedal between businesses in the East Lansing-Lansing downtown districts, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. LeFave hopes to set up an office on Lansing's Eastside in the coming year, and to employ two or more part-time staff as trike couriers. For now, Go Green Trikes is reachable through her web site.
Interested in learning more about Go Green Trikes? LeFave invites the public to attend an open house on her first day of business: April 22 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Michigan Energy Options, 405 Grove Street, East Lansing. Both trikes and city officials from East Lansing and Lansing will be onsite.
Source: Yvonne LeFave, President, Go Green Trikes
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Music lover brings vision from the road with amphitheater development

Bob Jordan spent 20 years on the road in the music business getting his start as a mixer for Fleetwood Mac. Now he's home with a vision to bring bands to mid-Michigan's backyard.
Along with business partner Cheryl McCullough, Jordan aspires to break ground this summer on a 15,000-seat outdoor music amphitheater in Windsor Township. Located on 100 acres just a quarter mile off I-69, the $20 million dollar project will be a state-of-the-art theater that gives music fans a local option for high-end musical acts from April through October. Slated to open in 2015, the Mid-Michigan Music Theater will create 250 seasonal and 75 annual jobs.
"Lansing needs this," says Jordan, a resident of Williamston Township. "It's hard to get to DTE, Van Andel, FireKeepers or Soaring Eagle during the week. People really want this here."
The Mid-Michigan Music Theater will feature national headliners as well as local and regional acts. The layout will feature plenty of big screens, a scalable stage for big or small acts, and ample ceiling height for large or elaborate shows. Opening plans for the inaugural season include a two-day festival showcasing mid-Michigan performers.
"We're also looking into the engineering of having a roof that can close over the fixed seating area, similar to a football stadium," says Jordan. "That way we can do events in the winter and not have to depend on the weather."
Jordan says the theater will give back to the community through fundraisers, food drives, and ticket giveaways to non-profit organizations. He also envisions awarding percentages of parking fees to groups that serve as attendants during events.
Jordan has his sights on building a "green" arena using Michigan contractors. He's also seeking LEED certification. A crowd funding campaign on the arena website is open to community members interested in contributing to or investing in the project.
"We're going to do as much to support the community as we can," says Jordan. "That's important to us."
Source: Bob Jordan, Mid-Michigan Music Theater
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Maybelle's Café and Sweets creates a gathering place, four jobs

When Amy Zander told her friends about her recent venture to open a café in Grand Ledge, they smiled and said it was a perfect fit.
"They said my house has always been the place where all of us want to gather because I'm a good host and always had good things to eat," says Zander. "That's my goal now."
Beginning May 3, Zander will open the doors to Maybelle's Café and Sweets at 214B S. Bridge Street. It's a dream she's had since high school and later reinforced when she and her husband managed a private hunting lodge and full-service kitchen in Northern Michigan.
Zander will move into the previous home of Sweet Linda's Café—a beloved bakery and sandwich shop that recently closed when the owner retired. She won't be straying much from the Sweet Linda's premise, Zander says, and will offer sandwiches, soups and salads, homemade baked goods, gourmet coffee and organic loose-leaf tea.
"One thing I am doing differently is I am going to be offering a gluten-free line of sandwiches and baked goods," says Zander. "And then there's my bubble bread."
Baked from a family recipe, bubble bread is a variation on the cinnamon roll and comes in several flavors. Any customer who can say 'bubble bread' correctly five times in a row will get a free sample.
"I'm planning to have a nice balance between some good sweet treats and healthy foods," says Zander. "That's how I like to eat. I like to eat healthy, but I also like to have a great brownie or cookie to balance it."
Zander is taking out a back wall to double her capacity, and configuring arrangements of tables and couches for cozy seating. She's also opening up an outdoor patio and garden area that will feature live music when the weather breaks.
"After this crazy winter, I'm really looking forward to sitting out there myself," she says.
Zander plans to hire up to four staff, and may also get occasional help from the budding chefs in her family, including her two kids and husband.
Source: Amy Zander, owner, Maybelle's Café and Sweets
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Leaf branches out to new Okemos location, creates nine jobs

Although Leaf Salad Bar opened its Frandor location just eight months ago, the need to branch out was apparent within weeks.
"It took off so fast that I had to look for a second location almost immediately," says co-owner Mark Sprinkel. "We found an Okemos location that attracts a solid lunch market, and we have more than ample parking."
Sprinkel opened the doors on the 1,300-square foot restaurant in mid-March, serving 40 inside and 10 on an outdoor patio when weather permits. The Woodland Square location at 2319 Jolly Road has already attracted a steady following for the gourmet salad bar that offers a healthy alternative for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
With a staff of nine and the culinary prowess of chef Phil Bopka, the Okemos venue mirrors the format of Lansing location by allowing patrons to weigh and pay for their own salads created from more than 100 gourmet toppings. Leaf also serves soups, fruits and smoothies, bringing what Sprinkel says, is a new option for a fresh, fast and healthy lunch every day.
"You can be creative and have a chopped salad one day, an Italian the next," says Sprinkel. "Or you can make a fruit salad. People are starting to come in for breakfast smoothies, too."
Sprinkel and his business partner Igor Jurkovic of Restaurant Mediteran are looking to expand their catering horizons, including wheel-in salad bars at off-site events.
"Right now our catering is all pick-up," says Sprinkel. "We're also looking into opening locations in Detroit and East Grand Rapids, and hope to franchise the business."
Source: Mark Sprinkel, Owner, Leaf Salad Bar
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Soup Spoon Cafe adds space, expands service options

Nick Gavrilides is all about good food. He's also all about ensuring the best experience for his guests.
Those two factors,  Gavrilides says, are behind the recent expansion of the Soup Spoon Cafe  at 1419 E. Michigan Ave. on Lansing's East Side.
"That and we could always use a little more storage space," says the owner and chef of the seven-year-old restaurant. "It can get a little cramped in here sometimes."
In late March, Gavrilides started reconstructing an adjoining space that used to house Bancroft Flowers. With expected completion by mid- May, the Soup Spoon addition will accommodate up to 30 guests, bringing the restaurant's total capacity to 100 diners for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Gavrilides says that while connected to the original footprint, the new space is ideal for private receptions and parties, as well as for accommodating larger groups.
While his primary motive is to offer more seating and cut down on wait times, Gavrilides says the expansion will also foster growth on the catering side—something the Soup Spoon has not done except on a small scale.
"I'm just excited to be able to serve more people, and to feel confident that they can get in, have a good lunch, and get back to work on time," says Gavrilides. "I'm also excited about expanding our catering offerings and to get the show on the road."
Since opening in the early 2000s, the Soup Spoon has built a healthy following through a menu that features six soups, world cuisine, craft beers, and locally roasted coffee. All items are reasonably priced, with per plate costs ranging from $5 to $29.
Gavrilides says he will be adding two new staff immediately and possibly up to five depending on public reception.
"If our catering needs go wild, we'll be in a position to offer more opportunity," he says.
Source: Nick Gavrilides, Owner and Chef, The Soup Spoon Cafe
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Black Cat Bistro brings sophisticated dining, 30 jobs to East Lansing

Two area restaurateurs looking to fill a niche in East Lansing are working together to transform a small retail space into a grand venue for sophisticated dining.
Beginning in late April, Los Tres Amigos' Arnulfo Ramirez and Georgio's Pizza's Thomas Alimonos will open the doors on the Black Cat Bistro at 115 Albert Street. The 2,000-square foot restaurant will be a partnership between the two entrepreneurs and will feature upscale, modern American cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere.
"Arnulfo and Thomas met as local business owners here," says Lorely Polanco, marketing director for the Black Cat Bistro. "They were interested in each other's approach to business, and they both had the idea of opening a fine dining establishment in East Lansing that could compete with destinations in Eastwood. They just clicked."
Polanco says the interior of the restaurant will strike a balance between simplicity and sophistication through dark leather booths, art deco walls, and wrought iron chandeliers. Nearly 80 diners will be able to enjoy indoor table service, while an outdoor patio adjacent to an East Lansing park will seat up to 30 guests.
Diners at the Black Cat can enjoy appetizers like bistro fries or peanut crusted goat cheese fritters, or salads like toasted almond and avocado or shaved asparagus and arugula. Main courses start at $11 up to $23 and include char-grilled skirt steak, mango and mustard glazed lake trout, mushroom strudel, and other dishes created by Executive Chef Jose Romero. Desserts favor cheesecakes, torts, ganache-filled oreos and a traditional Valencia rice pudding in a crispy almond cookie.
"Our menus is small but unique," says Polanco of the restaurant that will create about 30 jobs. "We'll have some local dishes that will feature local products, too."
Source: Lorely Polanco, Marketing Director for the Black Cat Bistro
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Zoobie's launches expansion, add foods, space and new jobs to popular tavern

A whimsical mix of the 1960s space race, coal-fired pizza and mid-century décor are fueling the expansion of a popular bar and restaurant in Old Town.
But that's not all that's driving the owners of Zoobie's Old Town Tavern at 611 E. Grand River Ave. to more than double its size by repurposing a vacant lot and pizza place next door.
"Our customers inspired us," says co-owner Sam Short of launching into the next phase of the business he operates with Aaron Matthews and Alan Hooper. "We had such a welcoming reception from Lansing, and the only real point we heard was that people wanted us to add food and a kitchen."
Short says it made sense to expand to the west and start a new pizza venture called The Cosmos Wood-Fired Pizza on the former site of Poppa Leo's. The half-million dollar plan involves refurbishing the pizzeria, connecting the two buildings via an addition, expanding the outdoor patio, and creating an eye-catching façade that includes a faux spaceship and cosmic mural. Local architect Ken Jones of Studio Intrigue and contractor Mike Reid from Capitol Mechanical are also involved bringing the concept down to earth.
"We're going to get started as soon as it thaws," says Short. "Our first order of business is paving the lots that took a winter beating, and then doing the groundwork."
Expected to open this June, The Cosmos will feature thin crust, Naples style pizza made in a wood-fire oven. Johnson and Wales trained chef Don Konopnicki will also create a small plate menu for both sides of the business. Short says that The Cosmos will locally source the wood for the pizza stove, and that menu items will feature fresh herbs from Zoobie's patio garden as the seasons allow.
The 1,500-square foot expansion will double Zoobie's interior space, while the patio will grow from an existing 55 to about 100 feet. About 10 new staff will be added once the 25-seat Cosmos is up and running.
"We're glad to be part of the local, creatively-driven businesses of Old Town," says Short. "Everything here is true Lansing. That's why we want to stay here and grow and create these fun options."
Zoobies and The Cosmos are exploring options for an exterior mural on the expanded tavern. Interested artists are welcome to email Sam Short via Zoobie's website for more details.

Source: Sam Short, co-owner, Zoobie's Old Town Tavern
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Mid-Michigan native applies brew master credentials to new Williamston microbrewery

Something's brewing in Williamston.
Starting in April, a developer with local roots will begin transforming the former home of the Williamston police and public works departments into a microbrewery and brewpub. When opened this fall, the soon-to-be-named venue will brew, sell and bottle more than a dozen types of beer on-site using equipment and ingredients sourced from Michigan.
"This will be the largest project we've worked on," says Travis Fritts, developer and partner in the Detroit Beer Company. "I've been trying to get back to Mid-Michigan for years. It feels like a good fit for Williamston and a good fit for me and my family."
Fritts grew up in Dimondale and followed his wanderlust to Germany. He knocked around taking food science courses at the Technical University of Berlin, and then began training at the university's institute for brewing: The VLB. Returning home with master brewing credentials, Fritts went to work for Webberville's Michigan Brewing Company before relocating to Detroit.
Fritts has longed to bring his stouts, pilsners, lagers and other inspired craft beers to Williamston. When he heard talk of the two-story industrial facility being up for sale, he made plans and presented his vision for an old world style pub and brewery to city leaders.
"It's a brewery, but we're concerned about good food, too," says Fritts. "The word 'pub' infers a meeting place for family and friends. We want to go for the café sort-of-feel."
The 25,00-square foot facility at 1500 W. Grand River will accommodate a 3,000 square-foot restaurant with 85 indoor seats and up to 15 on an outdoor patio. The remainder of the space will become production facilities and offices.  
Fritts will be acquiring brew tanks and related production equipment from Craftwerk Brewing Systems, an equipment manufacturer in Clarkson, Mich. He is also rebuilding a bottling line from a plant in Inkster that will be moved up to the Williamston facility come summer. The facility, he says, will create about 20 jobs between the restaurant, production and administration.
Source: Travis Fritts, Developer and Owner, upcoming Williamston microbrewery and pub
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor
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