Founders Throws Weight Behind Detroit Revitalization Effort with New Brewery & Taproom

Austin Ray

THE GIST
After nearly two decades of slower growth, complete with a flirtatious date with bankruptcy along the way, Founders Brewing has been expanding rather rapidly of late. And the company isn’t slowing down now. Just a year removed from opening a massive production facility, its second in its home city of Grand Rapids, MI, the company now plans to build out a new brewery and taproom two-and-a-half hours east in Detroit. The company says with this taproom, it wishes to be "at the forefront" of revitalizing the area.

WHY IT MATTERS
Though the Detroit project represents the arrival of Founders’ third brewery, the accompanying taproom would be only its second. In a blog post published Tuesday, co-founder and CEO Mike Stevens says the company has for years been kicking around the idea of establishing a second taproom, but is moving forward with it now out of a desire to “continue fulfilling” its commitment to its home state. In fact, he writes that the city of Detroit itself was a no-brainer because its rise and downfall as a vibrant manufacturing hub in many ways mirrors Founders’ own trajectory.

“The city of Detroit and Founders have a lot in common – we hit rock bottom and we bounced right back,” he writes. “It took years of hard work, tenacity and a regret nothing attitude, but we did it and we see those struggles reflected in the struggles and ultimate triumph of Detroit. And the people that live there? Tough-as-nails, industrious, culturally diverse, passionate and incredibly vocal about their love for Founders. This taproom is for them.”

Midtown Detroit, Inc. and Invest Detroit, both community development agencies, have partnered to invest in the project, which they similarly seem to believe has the potential to “facilitate the redevelopment” of the “emerging district” in which it is set to operate. Says Dave Blaszkiewicz, president and CEO of Invest Detroit in a press statement: “This location for the highly recognized Founders Brewing Co. will be a critical asset to encourage additional investment to revitalize the surrounding area.”

As for the facility itself, the company plans to open in a 14,000 square foot space in the lower Cass Corridor neighborhood of Midtown, directly behind the Detroit Masonic Temple, an historic building constructed for Mason fraternities turned popular theater. Visitors will be able to enjoy year-round and barrel-aged offerings, as well as unique brews made on site for exclusive Detroit taproom availability. Additionally, Founders anticipates the space will create at least 100 new jobs to be filled locally, which it hopes will help further pump needed blood back into the city.

“Not only will the presence of this taproom create jobs in Detroit, we anticipate it will drive in more traffic to the lower Cass Corridor neighborhood,” continues Stevens. “Located adjacent to arenas and music venues, the location is already seeing the beginnings of revitalization and we strive to be at the forefront of it. Our Grand Rapids location helped to spur the revitalization of the downtown neighborhood it is located in and we anticipate the same will happen in the lower Cass Corridor.”

Construction is slated to begin this summer, the company says, with an opening date tentatively set for winter 2017.

—Dave Eisenberg

READ MORE
We’re Headed to Detroit [Founders]
Founders Brewing to Open Detroit Taproom near Little Caesar’s Arena [MLive]