March 19, 2014 - By Meg Peters
Review Staff Writer
Vice president and part-owner of Canterbury Village, Keith Aldridge's big ideas for a conceptual renovation of his father's 28-acre site have been rolling in one after the other since January.
First, Woodside Bible Church purchased the Always Christmas Store and Expo Center at the end of January, and has submitted building plans to construct an 800-person auditorium.
Always Christmas will move to Canterbury Village's Village Quilt Shop building later this year.
The extra foot traffic from the typical 600 person congregation, held twice on Sundays, has lent another business opportunity to Canterbury Village.
"As soon as I came down here to start helping my dad, the number one thing I said to him was we need a cider mill on site," Aldridge said.
It just so happens that the owner of Yates Cider Mill, of Rochester Hills, is Mike Titus, a Woodside Bible member.
Yates Cider Mill presses Michigan apples into pasteurized apple cider, and features additional fudge and ice cream shops at the Rochester Hills location at 1990 East Avon Rd.
"Obviously he (Titus) saw the value of having all of those parishioners here and the foot traffic and I think that really helped solidify the deal," Aldridge said.
Titus and the Aldridge family struck up a deal to lease the "old hay-maker barn" on site to Yates Cider Mill, a vacant 4,000 square foot barn behind the Always Christmas Store.
Previous plans had been to build a separate building and expand the Sweet Lane Fudge shop for the Yate's ice cream shop business, but after consideration the two parties decided on the barn for all mill functions.
"It's more space for us, and fits all of our needs," Titus said of the barn. "It's just what we were looking for. The atmosphere, the location, the proximity to the highway and Lake Orion area, so it's just a good spot for us," Titus said.
Canterbury Village will assist in converting the barn into a full-functioning retail center for Yates, which will sell pressed-cider made and jugged at the Rochester Hills location. Cider will be delivered to the Orion location once a week.
The Aldridges will move the ice-cream equipment from the Sweet Lane Fudge Shop into the renovated barn so that Yates can offer their coffee shop year round. The Orion location will offer the same baked goods, coffee and ice creams the Rochester Hills location produces and make them homemade at the Orion location year round.
The Sweet Lane Fudge Shop will move to a different location off site.
The cider portion of the business will be busiest in the fall, but Titus said pressing will begin as early as April 15.
After renovating some of the interior of the barn, ice cream, coffee and fudge could become available as early as this summer.
Titus said it was still too early to tell how the apple season will be this season, which is dependent on if there is a frost in early spring.
"We're going to have a late spring this year everyone is saying because of the cold winter, so the trees haven't even worked up yet," Titus said. "But, I expect it should be a good season."
Titus said last year Yates celebrated its 150th anniversary with a good apple crop and even better season.
Titus and his wife are the sixth generation to own Yates Cider Mill, with three generations in their family, and three generations of the Yates owning the mill.
Apart from the retail aspect of his business, Titus also plans to host other activities that he does at the Rochester Hills mill, including pony rides and petting zoos for the kids.
Apart from the pending church and cider mill, Aldridge is also talking to a glass-blower who is interested in bringing his business to Canterbury and doing demonstrations.
"We need strong business partners," Aldridge said. "The C-Pub is strong, the banquet facility is strong, the Always Christmas store is strong, and so is the Spring Lake Market Place that came to us in the fall and. Now its Yates," he said.