Patio seating coming to local brewery

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 31, 2017

 City Council approved an outdoor seating area for Baffin Brewing Company on Jefferson Avenue.

City Council approved an outdoor seating area for Baffin Brewing Company on Jefferson Avenue.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

ST. CLAIR SHORES — Business is booming after more than two years on Jefferson Avenue, and the owners of Baffin Brewing Company want to take their business to the next level.

Co-owners Joe VanderMarliere and Evan Feringa were in front of City Council in July to ask for seating on their patio along Jefferson Avenue, just north of 10 Mile Road.

“We’ve been open for 2 1/2 years ... primarily focusing on production,” VanderMarliere said. “Outside of beer requests, the biggest request we get is for patio seating.”

He said they wanted to put three tables right outside the business, in the sidewalk space between the doors and the brick pavers that line Jefferson Avenue. Feringa said they hope to continue to be good neighbors to the community and don’t plan to have music or TVs outdoors.

“We are all community members,” he said. “We do close an hour before all the bars on weekends and two hours before the bars on weekdays.”

The seating would be fenced off with a decorative fencing, the owners said. They said they have already had people trying to park cars or motorcycles in that area, so they hoped that the fence would deter that.

“I like the idea that you want to bring life out on the street a little bit,” said City Councilman Chris Vitale.

Some residents expressed concerns about the safety of patrons sitting on the patio, however.

Resident Mark Point said that the seating would be only 9 feet from the edge of the road.

“The sidewalk that was moved back from the edge of the road for safety will be put back to the edge of the road,” he said. “This has unsafe written all over it. An accident waiting to happen.”

Vitale suggested that the fence could include some sort of cement planters that would both mitigate noise and slow down any stray vehicles.

The outdoor seating area being considered is within the public right of way of the building because “technically, part of your building is already in the right of way,” Councilman John Caron said. “Those buildings existed before we had the current definition of what the right of way is on Jefferson.”

The seating area is proposed to close off about 488 square feet of the existing sidewalk, leaving about 10 feet of sidewalk still available.

Feringa said that parking at the brewery was the biggest hurdle in the beginning, but now with the driveway behind Pat O’Brien’s Tavern relocated, the brewery is gaining more parking spaces behind its building.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie said that planters would also increase the attractiveness of the outdoor seating, in addition to providing some measure of safety.

City Council voted to approve the site plan with the safety additions that had been recommended.