BELLAIRE — Short’s Brewing Company is expanding its pub operation in Bellaire in a $1.2 million project that’s expected to create 20 jobs.
The craft beer producer — which helped ferment this scenic Antrim County village’s economic base for much of the last decade — may seek public money to finance some of the project.
“We are expecting to take on 20 new employees full-time,” Short’s spokesman Matt Gacioch said, adding the expansion coincides with the brewer’s 10-year anniversary in April 2014.
Gacioch said Short’s is exploring grants as a funding source, perhaps a Community Development Block Grant or financing through a rental rehabilitation program. The project calls for Short’s to rehab a vacant building at 120 N. Bridge St., formerly the home of the French Bulldog Boutique and the Sassy Sunflower gift shop.
Once that renovation is complete, the Bellaire Pharmacy will relocate from its location at 115 N. Bridge to the newly renovated property.
Short’s would then develop more kitchen and pub space at the Bellaire Pharmacy’s current property at 115 N. Bridge with the purpose of enhancing the retail and culinary experience for the brewer’s customers.
“The pub where our kitchen and dining area is now is at 4,000-square feet,” Gacioch said. “This new expansion will add another 3,900-square feet, basically doubling the space.”
Jan Kellogg, economic development specialist with the Northern Lakes Economic Alliance, said it’s unclear yet whether the project will receive taxpayer assistance.
“We don’t have anything definitive yet,” Kellogg said. “We are working with the state on possible incentives.”
Bellaire residents reacted to the news with enthusiasm. The brewer is an economic mainstay in the village, said Patti Savant, executive director of the Bellaire Chamber of Commerce.
Savant called word of the planned expansion “absolutely fabulous.”
“It will bring more business to our community,” Savant said, adding she believes Bellaire’s economy is doing well in part because of “Short’s being there and because of what they offer. It helps every one of our businesses in town.”
The brewer manufactures beer in Elk Rapids and is witnessing explosive growth. Gacioch said in 2010 Short’s produced 9,000 barrels of beer. In 2011, Short’s produced 12,000 barrels. The number was up to 18,000 in 2012 and Short’s is on target to produce 24,000 barrels this year.
“It’s partially because craft beer as an industry is expanding throughout Michigan and the country, and we are a leader in craft beer,” Gacioch said. “We have a unique business model and we put out more varieties of beers with incredible attention to quality and detail.”