Plans moving along for west end microbrewery

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Residents and members of the surrounding community may have a new place to beat the escalating temperatures of late spring and early summer soon, as a microbrewery could be making its debut in west Dearborn about then.

Dearborn Brewing LLC, owned and operated by John Rucinski, is a proposed microbrewery that would be opened at 21930 Michigan Ave.

Rucinski said he was already signed a lease for the location, plans to move in equipment in May and hopes to open just after that if approved and licensed by then.

He met with the City Council and Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. Jan. 23 in a study session to discuss the proposed business and its impact on the area.

Rucinski told the council he had no intentions of opening a bar or restaurant that would strain the parking available for the block and that he just wanted to be able to seat smaller groups of visitors who just want to sample the beer before leaving the business.

“I’m aiming to capture the happy hour crowd who would stop in and have two or three beers before heading out the door,” Rucinski said. “My success will hinge on getting my beer into local bars and restaurants. I don’t want to be a big destination place. My main focus long-term is distribution, not on-site sales.”

He said he currently has handshake deals with distributors to sell his beer at local bars.

Rucinski said his plans call for 20 to 25 seats for guests and no kitchen, though he would place takeout menus from area restaurants in the brewery and allow people to order in food.

He said he hopes to open offering patrons four artisan ales and then rotate seasonal beers, all made in-house.

“I can make 10 gallons of finished beer, which works out to be about four cases,” Rucinski said. “It takes about four to six hours, depending on the batch, to brew it all up then you add the yeast and let it ferment and that can take anywhere from two weeks to two months depending on the style.”

O’Reilly said having a microbrewery as opposed to a full-time bar or restaurant would be something new for the city.

“This is a unique thing that we haven’t had in Dearborn because it’s really just an emerging kind of market,” O’Reilly said. “People aren’t going to go to this establishment for anything other than this beer. It’s kind of like a wine-tasting or beverage tasting center. I think it’s workable.”

O’Reilly said one of the reasons for the study session was to discuss parking arrangements for the proposed business, something Economic and Community Development Department Director Barry Murray said shouldn’t be a large concern considering the small crowds Rucinski is planning on entertaining.

Murray said there are 287 parking spaces within a quarter mile and 797 spaces within a half mile of the site.

“Even if we don’t have enough spaces on the block, there are more than enough within a reasonable walking distance of the area,” Murray said. “He’s not going to be a real burden on the system.”

He said Rucinski would still have to go before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to ask for a variance for the parking. O’Reilly said this was standard procedure for all businesses in the city.

“For every business, we determine what their parking demand is, what they have on site and then what the balance is,” O’Reilly said. “Every business has to go through that process.”

City Councilman David Bazzy thanked Rucinski for bringing the idea to the city and said that he hopes it is a big success.

“Honestly, I hope you do have a parking problem because that means that you’re successful and your business is doing well and hopefully stays for a long time,” Bazzy said. “I applaud you for trying to do this in the city of Dearborn.”

O’Reilly aid the city is doing a background check on Rucinski and that after that is completed the results would be sent to the Legal Department.

After that, Rucinski needs to submit a final plan for the business to the city, get approval for the parking variance from the ZBA and approval from the City Council to be granted a microbrewery license.

Rucinski also will have to be granted licenses for the microbrewery through the state and federal governments to open and operate.

(Bob Oliver can be reached at boliver@bewickpublications.com.)

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