SAWYER — A Southwest Michigan brewery is expanding with a new location in Indiana in partnership with a SpartanNash Co.-owned grocery store.
Pending final approvals from the Indiana Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, Greenbush Brewing Co. plans to open a brewpub in space adjacent to the Martin’s Super Market at Erskine Plaza south of downtown South Bend.
Scott Sullivan, co-owner of the Sawyer-based Greenbush Brewing, said the company hopes to have the approvals set in time to open the 50-seat brewpub in November.
“It’s cool because there’s windows where you can actually see from the grocery store into our space, so if somebody’s over grocery shopping next door, they can see us brewing in there,” Sullivan told MiBiz. “You’re just one doorway away from being able to come check out what we are doing.”
Greenbush plans to install a 1-barrel system at the satellite location and brew “oddball specialties” specific to the South Bend brewpub, as well as serve its mainstay beers and other offerings brewed at the Sawyer brewery, he said.
The idea came about when Greenbush learned that the space adjacent to Martin’s was becoming available, according to Sullivan, who noted the Southwest Michigan brewery already has a large following in the South Bend area. In particular, the Erskine Plaza site at the intersection of U.S. 31 and U.S. 20 is adjacent to several larger residential areas of the city, making the combination of a grocery store and full-service brewpub restaurant a destination for customers, he said.
“It’s not just building our brand, it’s supporting it,” Sullivan said of the project. “We have a really big following down in that area. It’s a good opportunity for us to see how this works, putting a satellite location in a place where a lot of people know us already.”
As well, the company was familiar with the Martin’s brand, which operates grocery stores in Southwest Michigan in Niles, St. Joseph and Stevensville, and its reputation for quality, including at the store’s signature Side Door deli and cafe.
Sullivan said the brewery plans to leverage the deli’s products in the restaurant, as well as aims to offer some of its branded food products such as barbeque sauce and bacon at the deli.
Martin’s, which Byron Center-based SpartanNash (Nasdaq: SPTN) acquired in January, had explored developing its own full-service restaurant in the space, which had been used as open-seating for the deli, as a way to enhance its offerings at the location.
“We thought about turning the Side Door deli cafe into a full-service restaurant, but at the end of the day, we’re really good at selling groceries and doing food service at the deli, so we decided that perhaps leasing that space to a partner for the full-service restaurant portion would make more sense,” said Amy McClellan, senior vice president of Martin’s Super Markets and division vice president of retail at SpartanNash.
“Definitely in the South Bend area, this will be unique to give our customers here at Martin’s the opportunity for an enhanced experience right next door to our grocery store,” she said. “The brewpub concept made sense. … We’re excited that people will get the same level of service from Greenbush inside the brewpub as they would from Martin’s inside of the supermarket. That became evident from our first meeting with Scott and team.”
For Greenbush Brewing, the expansion with a satellite brewpub in South Bend comes as the company is opening distribution in new markets beyond its core in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. The brewery started shipping beer to Kentucky in August and will launch in Ohio on Oct. 1, “and then Wisconsin after that,” said Sullivan, noting the company expects to brew about 7,500-8,000 barrels of beer this year.
“We’re growing as a brand in a lot of ways,” he said.
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