Originally published on October 13, 2014 on MLive.com By
CEDAR SPRINGS, MI — For owner David Ringler, it was now or never.
On Tuesday, Oct. 14, crews break ground on the Cedar Springs Brewing Co., another addition to the ever-expanding West Michigan beer industry, and one that Ringler hopes can become a destination stop in northern Kent County.
“We’ll be relatively German-centric,” said Ringler, an investment advisor with degrees in history and brewing science who is jumping back into the industry after one-time stints at Atwater Brewing in Detroit and the former Grand Rapids Brewing Co. on 28th Street SE.
“That’s my background and passion, and it’s something not many of the craft brewers are really focusing on,” he said. “A lot of places dabble with the German stuff, but I definitely have some ideas I want to do that nobody is really doing.”
But first, Ringler needs a building. At 11 a.m. Tuesday, Orion Construction crews will break ground at 95 North Main St. NE in Cedar Springs, where an 1890s-era storefront was demolished last month to make way for the new operation.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation is considering a community revitalization grant for the project, which MEDC assistance specialist Ryan Kilpatrick characterized as a likelihood because the “project is anticipated to have a transformational effect on downtown Cedar Springs.”
Ringler, a German-trained brewer who spent some time abroad, looked at locations in Lansing and Grand Rapids before settling on Cedar Springs, a community hurting for some new development. Metro area traffic data shows about 10,000 cars flow daily through the city’s downtown stretch of Northland Drive NW, “but nobody stops.”
“There’s really not a whole lot there,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we chose here.”
Ringler, who lives in the area, has already made the new brewery a presence in the community and he hasn’t even poured a single beer. He has spoken on the brewing industry at Cedar Springs Public Library and made the business a sponsor of school district events and the city’s signature Red Flannel Festival.
The brewery is already selling merchandise and the business image reflects the red color scheme of the community. Ringler even showed up on television this weekend to promote the groundbreaking dressed head-to-toe in a red suit.
Thus far, his community outreach appears to be getting reciprocated. The Cedar Springs City Council unanimously approved his licenses in December and the sale of the property, which was previously owned by the city, was finalized in August. Cedar Springs Mayor Mark Frankhauser, Michigan Senate candidate and state Rep. Peter MacGregor and others will mark the groundbreaking.
“If we get the shell built before the snow flies, we’ll be in good shape for opening in February or March,” said Ringler, who plans the new microbrewery as a full service restaurant with seating for 150 inside under 28-foot vaulted ceilings, and another 100 in an outdoor beer garden.
Ringler sought not just a microbrewers’ license, but one to make wine and spirits as well. He is hoping for some snowmobile traffic in the winter months, as the brewery beer garden will back up to the White Pine Trail — the second in Kent County located along the path. Seven miles south, Rockford Brewing also abuts the trail.
The food menu is still being worked out, but he said it will be heavy on family friendly dining with German-influenced specials.
“Our goal is to have comfortable, familiar dishes that are made fresh, using local and sustainably sourced ingredients when possible,” he said. “It’ll be familiar foods done with a little twist, or slightly upscale.”
With a microbrewers license, Ringler is expecting to ship kegs, cans and some limited release bottles off his 15-barrel system, which will have a 1,500-barrel annual capacity to begin with.
Ringler will run the day-to-day operations. He’s hired a brewmaster to oversee beer production. The business expects to hire about 30 full- and part-time workers.
He’s keeping the beer lineup under his hat for now, but did offer a tease for those who bemoan the lack of locally brewed lagers.
“That’s definitely part of the game plan.”