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Axle Brewing’s Livernois Tap to close

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 11, 2019

 Axle Brewing Co. will be closing Livernois Tap June 30 after two years of operation. The business attributed road construction on Livernois to taking a toll on its revenue and affecting its momentum.

Axle Brewing Co. will be closing Livernois Tap June 30 after two years of operation. The business attributed road construction on Livernois to taking a toll on its revenue and affecting its momentum.

Photo by Mike Koury

FERNDALE — After operating for two years, a drinking staple of Ferndale will be closing its doors.

Axle Brewing Co. announced on its Facebook page that it will be shutting down the Livernois Tap restaurant, 567 Livernois Ave., at the end of the month, with its final day scheduled for June 30.

“We are so proud of what we built over the past four years, especially the last two in Ferndale,” the statement reads. “The embrace from our community has been inspiring, and the support from the city of Ferndale from the moment we purchased the building has been steady and strong. We struggled early on to gain momentum in distribution, so we focused our energy and resources on creating a place that would reflect our values, aspirations and define our brand. We built a family-friendly, inclusive gathering place where creative food, great beer and hospitality lived in harmony.”

In Axle’s statement, the company said it doesn’t see a “clear path to profitability” with its current cost structure and “very lean margins” on the distribution side of its business in the near term.

“We are grateful for the support from the city of Ferndale, our neighbors, and the resilience of our staff during the six months of road construction we endured last summer and fall, but it definitely took a toll on our revenue and arrested the substantial momentum we had rolling into our first birthday last June,” the statement says.

Axle Brewing owner Dan Riley could not be reached for comment by press time.

The Facebook post further states that Axle has had a few conversations with companies about partnering or acquiring it, and that its next goal is to secure a strategic partner or buyer that shares its values and interest in Ferndale so that it can succeed.

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision,” the statement says. “We are so proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished together. We are truly grateful to everyone who cheered us on and look forward to thanking everyone over a beer in the next couple of weeks.”

Mayor Dave Coulter said that in the two years that the business was in operation, it really made a mark on the city.

“They really embraced Ferndale and Ferndale embraced them,” he said. “It’s a sad day when they will be closed. They have been an important part of our efforts to revitalize the Livernois corridor. They took an obsolete building and invested in it, just as we were investing in the infrastructure there, and I’m sorry it hasn’t worked out for them.”

As Axle alluded to how road construction took a toll on its revenue, Coulter said infrastructure repair always is a double-edged sword.

“You have to do it in order to maintain and attract investment, and at the same time, there’s no question that it makes it more difficult while the construction is underway,” he said. “Both on the Livernois project and for ‘The dot,’ we’ve implemented a number of mitigations that we hope makes it easier, but it’s always gonna be a challenge and it’s unfortunately the nature of doing infrastructure upgrades.”

The mayor said the city will reach out and work with Riley to help find the best business for that spot.

“It has become such an important site on that corridor,” he said. “Despite this unfortunate ending, businesses continue to express strong interest in Ferndale, and we’ll work with Dan to see if we can help get the right buyer for that property.”