With permits approved by the Grand Rapids Planning Commission last week to occupy a 52,000-square-foot former beer distribution facility and open a new taproom, the Spring Lake-based Vander Mill Ciders
is looking to start production in the fall after a $4 million redevelopment of the Ball Avenue NE industrial site.
The expansion would mark the cidery's first physical expansion out of Spring Lake and allow Vander Mill Ciders to quintuple production. With the Spring Lake facility topping out at 200,000 gallons of hard cider production last year, owner Paul Vander Heide says the new Grand Rapids facility will have enough equipment to produce 1 million gallons.
"We'll be able to produce up to five times what we are now and then past that, even more considerable potential within that facility," Vander Heide says. "The way our brand has been growing over the past five years, we've struggled with space every single time we try to increase capacity, so certainly the opportunity is that we can stay focused on business and regular growth without having to constantly change our process and accommodate the lack of space that we've experienced."
Plans for Ball Avenue NE include a 4,300-square-foot restaurant in Grand Rapids with 24 ciders on tap and seating for 200 indoors, with room to accommodate 60 more people on an outdoor patio.
While the Spring Lake restaurant and taproom at 14921 Cleveland St. will remain in operation, Vander Heide says most of the apple pressing and fermentation will move to the Grand Rapids facility with the exception of specialty ciders.
"Grand Rapids is such a captive audience. We see a lot of tourism there already that finds its way out to Spring Lake because of people's awareness of our brand, not just outside of Grand Rapids and in Michigan, but out-of-state in Chicago, Indiana and Ohio," Vander Heide says, adding the presence of other popular West Michigan breweries like Founders, Brewery Vivant and New Holland also contributes to the optimistic forecast for Vander Mill Cider's Grand Rapids future.
Visit Vander Mill Ciders on Facebook
for updates on the new Grand Rapids location.
Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Jeff Hage/Green Frog Photography
This Thanksgiving, raise a glass of Michigan apples
Fall in a Glass
A toast: to family, apples and Farmhaus Cider Co.