Village clears way for downtown restaurant
July 27, 2011 - As of Monday's Village Council meeting, the 51 N. Brewing Company has jumped its first hurdle on the path to opening.
|An artists rendering of what a redesigned 51 N. Broadway Street will look like when finished. A fenced-in dining area complemented by trees and a isolated entrance area add a nice touch to the establishment. (click for larger version)|
The motion to allow the company's owner to seek a brewer's license, wine-makers license and entertainment license was previously denied to owner Don Eindhart at the meeting on June 27. One reason for the denial in June rested on the absence of Council Member Michael Toth, which resulted in a three to three tie, meaning the motion failed. If not for a last second motion to table the issue, made by Council Member Douglas Dendle after several citizens stood to criticize the voting outcome, the brewery would have very easily lost it footing in Lake Orion, moving elsewhere as needed.
The three nay voters in the original vote were Dendel, Doug Hobbs, and David Churchill while John Ranville, Lary Stumkat, and Ken VanPortfliet voted ay.
The scene was quite different July 25, when Churchill and Hobbs changed their votes to positive. They also offered reasons for their change, including checking with local residents and reading additional paperwork. Only Dendel remained firm in a negative view on the establishment's license requests. Toth returned while Ranville left, but the motion to approve 51 N. Brewing Company's license requests.
"I think everyone has done a little homework to get a good consensus on the vote tonight," said Ken VanPortfliet.
With the first step out of the way, Eindhart said he and his wife Mary as just trying to work as hard as possible to get everything they need to get the experience they want in place.
"We love the location, we love the building, we love the people and the demographics - this place is just perfect," said Eindhart. "45 days after the approval of these licenses we'll be able to start brewing what we want to serve.
"We'll grab the lease after we get approval, and on September 1 we start turning that building into 51 N. Broadway. We plan on opening in early 2012."
The brewery will operate on a year lease conducted with the DDA, with the option to buy the property after four years at the location. Eindhart wants the building to have a industrial, gas station look to it, while the interior will match outside, fenced in seating to create a kind of beer garden.
Eindhart said, because the licenses he acquired only allow him to sell what he makes, he thinks they will not become just another typical bar.
"We're very serious about not being a typical bar and while I believe there can be problems, they're not going to be 21-year-olds looking to get drunk," said Eindhart. "Music will be kept low and turned off at sunset, and the kitchen will offer healthy options, including some gluten free cooking.
"I really think this place is going to explode."
Some of those menu items, besides daily specials, include French Onion soup, beef tips, and a wide array of salads. He added deep fried food will stay off the menu unless there is a strong demand.
Eindhart started brewing after having a Sam Adams while in Princeton, NJ, in 1982. He and a friend named Jim Pericles - who would later become a master brewer at Samuel Adams - went to a brewer to try their hand at the craft. While Eindhart said the brew was awful, he fell in love with brewing.
As previously reported, the story of 51 N. Brewing Company in Lake Orion nearly ended on June 27 when the licenses were denied, and other municipalities took notice of the problems Eindhart was having. While hesitant to talk about the subject, he said three municipalities attempted to persuade him to move his business.
"Lake Orion is still my first choose though," said Eindhart. "We're committed if they allow us to do it. We love this area and the people and we think we'll be a perfect fit here in Lake Orion.
"I have a dream, and I want to pursue it."
The restaurant will begin with open hours from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday. They will remain closed on Monday. The planned location is 51 N. Broadway in downtown Lake Orion, where the DDA office is currently.
Eindhart lives in Troy and is now a Project Manager for Hewlett Packard.