ELK RAPIDS — Visitors to Cellar 152 find themselves surrounded by vintage wood, fine wine and fresh-made food.
A stone high on the front of the building at 152 River St. reads “1900 Mitchell Brothers.” The deep-toned wood floor shows the patina of age. The high ceiling gives the interior a feeling of spaciousness.
Two couples recently bought the property — which had been split down the middle into two businesses — and remodeled it into a wine and gourmet food shop that employs a dozen people.
Rob Crandell and Mary Sawyer had run a wine shop in Elk Rapids for four years. Mark and Kerri Wayne were ready to invest in town. They combined forces to create the shop at 152 River St.
Remodeling included major structural updates. They recycled wood found inside the structure into signage, counter tops and a table made from 100-year-old oak planks. Fresh steel columns, faced with wood, now support the roof.
There’s a wine bar in back and a food service counter in front. Off to the side are a check-out counter and coolers for pre-packaged food. Home decor items are on display throughout.
The two couples hosted an informal grand opening on Aug. 2. A ferocious storm blasted across the area that afternoon. Celebrants watched rain fall on River Street out the front of the building while hail hit the deck out the back door. But they believed they were safe inside the brick-and-steel building, said Mark Wayne. A snug and comfortable retreat is what Cellar 152 is all about.
“The goal is to build a destination spot,” he said.
Crandall and Sawyer reached critical mass at their existing business and weren’t sure what to do next.
“We were struggling with trying to expand the wine shop,” Crandall said.
The Waynes had lived in the area for 10 years and desired to add their own touch to Elk Rapids’ downtown atmosphere.
“My wife and I wanted to create something cool for the town,” Mark said.
The new shop caters to locals and tourists — and to part-time residents, folks who own homes in the area but live here only part of the year.
Crandall worked as a wine rep for years before opening the Elk Rapids wine shop. He and Sawyer still go on overseas excursions to find sources of excellent but affordable wines.
Crandall and Wayne tailored their food offerings to appeal to people who desire great food to eat on the premises or on a boat or at a lake house. They make little sandwiches, priced at $3. They also offer large sandwiches, fresh breads and packaged foods. And bulk food such as soups, salads, plain macaroni & cheese and lobster macaroni & cheese.
“The market is a big part of our business plan,” said Wayne.
Crandall said about a third of the shop’s income so far has been from food, a third from wine and the last third from home accent items and other wares.