About a year ago, Jon O’Connor and his team at Long Road Distillers LLC explored potential locations in Cadillac but were not able to find the right fit.
“I remember, on our way out of town, we noticed this building,” said O’Connor, who co-founded the Grand Rapids-based distillery. “We were like, ‘That’s a really cool building.’ We didn’t really think anything of it after that.”
Now, Long Road has inked a two-year lease on that very space and plans to open it this summer as its fourth location. The craft distillery currently maintains locations in Grand Rapids and Grand Haven and is working on finishing up the build out of a new location in Charlevoix.
As a Northern Michigan native, O’Connor said that many aspects of the Cadillac area spoke to him.
“It’s a destination in and of itself,” he said. “It’s a town that’s got a pretty sizable population that sits on two bodies of water and I can’t think of other places where that exists. … We’re like, ‘Man, this is a really cool town.’ It’s got a great downtown infrastructure. Our location is a block from (Lake Cadillac).”
Long Road will occupy the 3,000-square-foot space at 412 S. Mitchell St., which will have a 100-person capacity inside, plus hold an additional 100 people outside. The building was a former fitness center, which was purchased and remodeled by Robb Munger, a Grand Rapids resident who is also president and CEO of the nonprofit organization Exodus Place, a re-housing and rehabilitation center for former prisoners, homeless men and other people who are facing hardships. Munger, who has completed other developments in Cadillac, originally planned a coffee shop or brewpub of his own, but pivoted and offered the space to Long Road.
“We jumped at the chance,” O’Connor said. “We moved very quickly.”
The fact that Long Road would have to complete minimal renovations was another benefit of the space.
“The space is as well-done as I’ve been able to walk into from day one,” O’Connor said. “We’re still doing some work to get it ready for our intended use. It wasn’t set up to have a cocktail bar. … For the most part, the shell and the interior of the building is quite far along.”
Pending Michigan Liquor Control Commission approval, Long Road’s Cadillac location will be licensed as a tasting room, featuring a cocktail bar along with providing product samples and bottles to go. It also features a spacious patio with an additional bar contained within an outdoor shipping container.
O’Connor said Long Road is in talks with food trucks and food vendors to forge relationships with and bring food to the establishment.
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