Microbrewery one step closer

By BOB OLIVER
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Now that he has the approval of the city’s Planning Commission to renovate and occupy a downtown building for his microbrewery, John Rucinski only has to get a variance for parking and his brewer’s license to open up shop.

Rucinski owns and operates Dearborn Brewing LLC and wants to open a microbrewery at 21930 Michigan Ave., for which he already has worked out a lease agreement.

He appeared before the commission June 9 for a special land use and site plan for the business and was approved 8-0 with Commissioner Tawfiq Hassan absent from the meeting.

Chairman Dr. Gary Errigo said Rucinski had to apply for the special land use because of city law regarding bars and taverns, even though the only alcohol sold and served on site would be the homebrew.

With the commission’s approval, Rucinski must now go before the Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday and make his case for a parking variance.

The site is required by city code to offer 55 parking spaces, but only 13 are available to be shared by Rucinski and his neighbors L.A. Bistro and Nichols Ski and Snowboard shop.

Rucinski said parking will not be an issue because he expects his customers to use city parking lots and that he doesn’t expect more than 20 or 25 customers in the business at one time.

Economic and Community Development Department Director Barry Murray previously said parking shouldn’t be a large concern considering the small crowds Rucinski was planning on entertaining.

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

“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.”

Rucinski said the main focus of the microbrewery was going to be long-term distribution.

“I consider the little retail space to be more of a tasting or tap room,” Rucinski said. “My success will hinge on getting my beer into local bars and restaurants.”

Rucinski said he intends to offer four different artisan ales and a seasonal beer rotation.

He said the business will not have a kitchen, though he would place takeout menus from area restaurants in the brewery and allow people to order food.

If given approval for the parking variance from the ZBA, Rucinski can then try to get approval from the city council for a microbrewery license.

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

“After that, I can start moving in equipment and getting the first batch ready to go,” Rucinski said. “The first month will be spent making the first gallons of finished beer.”

Rucinski first brought the plan for the microbrewery to Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. and members of the city council at a study session Jan. 23.

The mayor and council were receptive to the idea of the microbrewery opening in town if it was given its variance and licensing.

“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.”

City Councilman David Bazzy said he hoped the business would turn into a big success and draw more people into west Dearborn.

“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.”

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

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