Founders Brewing Co. to open new taproom in Detroit

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published May 17, 2017

 The location of Founders’ new taproom in Detroit will be in the South Cass neighborhood, one that has been hit hard economically in recent years. Local community leaders are hoping the infusion of new businesses in the area, including Founders, will reinvigorate it.

The location of Founders’ new taproom in Detroit will be in the South Cass neighborhood, one that has been hit hard economically in recent years. Local community leaders are hoping the infusion of new businesses in the area, including Founders, will reinvigorate it.

Photo provided by Francesca Jasinski

DETROIT — For fans of popular Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewing Co., the creators of some of Michigan’s favorite beer labels will be adding a new location in Detroit.

The announcement was made April 25 that Founders will open a taproom in the heart of the city’s South Cass neighborhood. The new facility will brew its own beverages and provide a drinking and dining experience for visitors.

“Legally, here in Michigan, under our brewer’s license, we can have two establishments,” said Mike Stevens, one of the co-founders of Founders. “Honestly, we weren’t looking to open a second location. Many people were suggesting opening one in Chicago or California, but we were happy staying in Grand Rapids. But we’ve had more and more fans in Detroit, and we’ve gotten more involved with some of the stadiums and venues there, and we’ve been falling in love with the area. Detroit is a place that has gone through a lot of struggles, and there is a lot of grit and a lot of success despite setbacks and hard times, and that fighter’s spirit really matches Founders’ history.”

Founded in 1997, the beer makers pride themselves on being tough workers with a pioneering spirit. They are hoping that spirit will lead to success for this second location.

“The area is close to the new Little Caesar’s Arena, but is very underdeveloped and is very reminiscent of our facilities here in Grand Rapids,” said Stevens. “We like going into a depressed part of town and being part of making it vibrant again. Detroit is right on the cusp of pioneering their own way. It’s still very early in its rebound phase, so we wanted to come in as part of its success and not after its success.”

Sue Mosey, the executive director of Midtown Detroit Inc., a nonprofit planning and economic development organization for the Midtown, Tech Town and New Center areas, said she is excited to see Founders move into that area. She thinks it will be a significant presence in the community.

“The South Cass neighborhood has been very disinvested in past years, despite being so close to the city center, but there are a lot of new businesses moving in during the last couple years,” she said. “It’s an area that has begun to be redeveloped in the last year or two. The new Mike Ilitch School of Business — part of Wayne State’s business school — is also opening up soon in that area.”

Stevens said the new taproom will be designed with Detroit in mind and will provide something new even for those who have visited the original taproom in Grand Rapids.

“It will be built for the people of Detroit. It won’t be a carbon copy of our taproom in Grand Rapids,” said Stevens. “It will reflect the people and culture of Detroit. It’s going to have a beer hall kind of feel. It won’t be overly polished, and we’ll be brewing specialty beers just for the Detroit taproom, some of which aren’t even served here in Grand Rapids. It will have a very fun and laid-back atmosphere.”

Founders is planning for an early winter opening of the Detroit taproom. Stevens said he hopes it will open in time for the 2018 North American International Auto Show. Mosey is confident, based on Founders’ past performance, that the new addition will be a hit in the city.

“They are obviously a big brand in the area. It should attract a lot of business to the neighborhood,” said Mosey. “It’s close to the new (Little Caesar’s) arena, and it will be near a lot of other new businesses in the area. Hopefully, it will encourage more people to ride the new rail system, which is opening May 12 (after press time). Plus, they will bring more jobs to the area. They’ve been working at this craft for a very long time. They are Michigan-based and they have such great rankings on their beers, they have a lot of brand loyalty on their products, and all that should make them real successful.”