The West Leonard beverage scene is growing bigger.
Hard cider maker People’s Cider Co. is planning to open a tasting room in Grand Rapids, at 539 Leonard St. NW, next door to craft spirits maker Long Road Distillers, at 537 Leonard St. NW, and at the same corner as Mitten Brewing Co., at 527 Leonard St. NW, and Two Scotts BBQ.
The plans still need go to the Grand Rapids Planning Commission on Feb. 11, as well as the city commission and liquor control commission.
“There is no other place, that we know of, that these places exist with a consecutive address,” People’s Cider owner Jason Lummen said of having a brewery, distillery and cidery all in a row. “It’s not one large project. It’s three separate businesses all collaborating with each other.
“We’re all creating things that are enhancing the neighborhood, continuing to make it a great place to live and a great place to work.”
Lummen hopes the space will be completed and open by May 1, the fourth anniversary of the company.
The opportunity came when the same company that owns the Long Road Distillers building, which owns the site next door, separated the Chicago Style Gyro shop, which will remain open.
“What we’re effectively doing is utilizing the urban street wall,” Lummen said.
The owner of the buildings didn’t want to lose the gyro shop, however.
“They’re a great asset to the neighborhood and add a diversity of food we don’t have in many places in this city, let alone this neighborhood,” Long Road Distillers co-owner Kyle Van Strien said.
People’s Cider is currently operating a tasting room out of its 1,000-square-foot production facility in Grand Rapids, at 600 Maryland Ave. NE.
The new tasting room will open up about 400 square feet of space that People’s Cider can use for expanded production. Last year, People’s produced about 5,000 gallons of cider, and Lummen expects this move to double the number.
“Right now, I’m limited by how much finished product I can put out in a week, and this will drastically increase production capabilities,” Lummen said. “I want to be good to the existing wholesale we have now and use the space to grow the brand.”
The new tasting room will also be the first time Lummen has needed employees.
“It’s still pretty small, but it’s big for us,” Lummen said. “It’s more than I can handle. But I’m happy to be able to provide income for more people and families.”
In 2013, Lummen had plans to open a tasting room on Jefferson Avenue. The plan, however, fell a part when a new owner purchased the building.
Lummen said that was a blessing in disguise.
“I wish it could have worked out, but it’s funny how things always work out,” Lummen said. “That one was a little bit early, but this one I’m ready for. I was extended a little bit further than I should have then, but it didn’t sink the project.”
This opportunity comes at a time when he feels it’s better for the company and as production needs to be increased.
It’s also in a neighborhood he would pick over any other in the city, despite being a lifelong Eastown devotee.
“If I sit down and think about where I want to be, this is where it’d be,” Lummen said. “This is a premier neighborhood of Grand Rapids and is extremely proud and vibrant.
“It’s a great place to live, great place to work, and I hope to add to the diversity.”