East Hills business is unique

July 30, 2010
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A bit of Old World tradition is coming to a divergent East Hills neighborhood in a few months. Jason and Kris Spaulding are preparing to open Brewery Vivant at 925 Cherry St. SE later this year.

The married couple’s new business will consist of a microbrewery that will feature Belgian and French beers and a restaurant that will serve food reflective of both cuisines. Jason Spaulding said they looked at all sorts of locations all over the state to find the right spot for Brewery Vivant. But as soon as they took a walking tour of East Hills and saw the buildings that Locus Development had available, they knew they had found a home for their business.

“The building itself lends itself well to the use that we wanted. It really just came down to being the walkableness of that neighborhood, and the fact that there were other owner-operated businesses in that area was really, really attractive,” he said. “The whole idea with the brewery is we’re really targeting it as a neighborhood business.”

Spaulding said it was less expensive to build a microbrewery on a vacant piece of land in a suburban-type setting than it is to do a renovation in an urban neighborhood. But the Spauldings want their business to be more than a place to grab a beer and a bite to eat; they want the brewery to be a regular hangout — a comfortable place where friends will get together often. “Having an identity in the neighborhood is crucial,” he said.

Jason Spaulding is familiar with beers brewed in Belgium and France. He has received training in Germany and has toured the farmland regions in Belgium and France, where he spoke with brewers.

“What makes them special, I guess, is these brewers take a real artistic approach to beer-making, and they incorporate a lot of local ingredients in their beers, which gives it kind of a local flavor that is specific to that region,” said Spaulding, who hopes to brew 5,000 barrels annually.

“That’s kind of what we want to do here. We’re not really looking to replicate beers that are made elsewhere, but we’re kind of taking their approach to beer and applying that here.”

The Spauldings plan to take the same local approach to creating their menu as they will in crafting their beers. They are looking forward to establishing relationships with area farmers and growers because they want to know who is supplying their produce, fruits, herbs and other items.

“In France and Belgium, there are a lot of simple high-quality foods with wild game that they incorporate into their menus,” said Spaulding.

“Another thing they’re famous for is their Belgium fries served with mayonnaise. We’re going to do some of that. But it’s homemade mayonnaise, not like the Hellman’s that people are used to, and it makes a big difference. So we’re really looking to do a local fresh menu that has got a European feel to it: hard meats, artisan cheeses, nice breads — simple things like that.”

The Spauldings were the first tenant landed by Locus Development for its renovation project. Andy Winkel, a partner with John Green in the development firm, said the couple has a well-designed business plan for Brewery Vivant, and Jason has plenty of experience as a former owner and co-founder of New Holland Brewing Co.

“While we feel like we set the bar high for any operator that might become part of a project, it’s not too often that we come across an operator as well prepared as Jason. We were also drawn to the fact that the brewery is a great fit for the existing buildings on that site, and that it’s complementary to the East Hills neighborhood,” said Winkel.

The Spauldings are leasing about 9,200 square feet in two buildings on the property. The production facility will have roughly 5,200 square feet at 930 Cherry St SE. The 140-seat restaurant will occupy the remaining 4,000 square feet at 925 Cherry St. SE.

“The buildings will be adjoined by a walkway, because I want people to be part of the process. They can see where their beer is being made on a brew day,” said Spaulding. The buildings will be LEED certified. A third building on the site also will be renovated.

“We’re just trying to promote a sense of community with our business. We’re trying to promote the walkability of the neighborhood and biking. It’s more of a lifestyle business.”

Interior demolition has begun. The renovation work will start any day. Orion Construction is managing the project, while Cornerstone Architects designed the work.

“We’re going to be open before the year is over, and I’m still optimistic that we will be able to hit a late fall opening,” said Spaulding.

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