9 Bean Rows cafe opening in Suttons Bay

For 9 Bean Rows, a small Leelanau Peninsula artisan farm and bakery, there's been something missing in their business operation, until now.

Jen and Nic Welty, owners of 9 Bean Rows, needed the perfect outlet to sell their produce and baked goods in northern Michigan. So, 9 Bean Rows Café was created, and will open in the historic Suttons Bay firehouse later this month. The Weltys enlisted the help of Susan and Paul Carlson to make the new enterprise happen; Paul is a chef, and Susan's focus is on marketing, rounding out the complete team behind the café.

While selling produce and baked goods at local farmers markets and through a CSA program, the Weltys were looking for a new way to expand. Paul Carlson came into the picture through Black Star Farms, where Jen's bakery is still located. He formerly ran the Hearth & Vine café there, and will bring his wood-fired pizza specialties to the new 9 Bean Rows Café.

Other points on the menu include light, European-style breakfast items, newly-created lunch and dinner menu from Carlson, local wines and beers, and craft cocktails.

Susan Carlson says the Suttons Bay firehouse was "a building they have all been drawn to and dreamed of owning over the years." The time was right to buy it, and renovations began on the building June 20. The year-round café's will officially open by July 25, when it will offer a small menu including produce from other area farms as well. The team expects to employ about a dozen people over the course of 2013, and they aren't done yet.

"The long term plan is to renovate the back end of the firehouse and add a new kitchen that will accommodate Jen's bakery, and a larger prep kitchen for catering," says Susan Carlson.

In the meantime, you might get lucky if you stop by early, as the two couples are working round the clock to get the doors open in advance of the grand opening event. The best way to find out exactly when is through the 9 Bean Rows Facebook page, says Carlson.

Writer: Sam Eggleston
Source: 9 Bean Rows
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