At Cherry Republic, we have what you would call a good problem. We’ve been so blessed with visitors flocking to our Glen Arbor campus that we are, quite literally, bursting at the seams. We simply cannot squeeze any more customers into our store, winery, and cafe. And like many of our fellow Glen Arbor retailers and restaurateurs, we are fortunate to have the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore bringing so many new people to our little lakeside town.
We also realize that with all of the good that Glen Arbor’s visitors bring (and there’s a lot of good!), there are challenges that can’t be overlooked by our community any longer — parking, septic, and wastewater issues among the top issues. Increased seasonal restaurant space and more affordable housing for employees are also dire needs.
The Need for Expansion
So what’s to be done? At Cherry Republic, we know we need to expand. In fact, we started preparing for a long overdue renovation of our cafe way back in 2013. Since then, our need has only grown, and our plans have blossomed into a bigger project that will enhance every corner of our expanding property. We’re planning to create a full-service restaurant and a brewery in our cafe. There will be more parking, a funky beer garden, and a much more customer-friendly environment.
We’ll also have a new Great Hall which will be double the size of the existing one. (You may be surprised to learn that on July 3, we had 4,000 customers come through the doors of our Great Hall, which — other than Ann Arbor — is the smallest of our six Michigan locations!) The attached sketches show what the future will bring, which includes some new surprises for our customers, like the above-mentioned beer garden, a couple of old fashioned wooden water tanks, and some new gardens. At the same time, we look forward to fixing some long-overdue challenges, like moving our septic field. And with a nod toward renewable energy — one of our passions — our new buildings will all be equipped with solar panels.
While we recognize our need to expand at Cherry Republic, at the same time we also hope to use this as an opportunity to lead the charge of the expansion of our thriving town! Take the housing issue. This beautiful town nestled in the SBDNL is a terrific place to live and work and raise a family, but today jobs go unfilled, and we are finding that the workers who do come to work in Glen Arbor are driving from further and further away. With help from the state, township and county, Cherry Republic’s expansion will include 10 apartments that will be filled with people who choose to build their lives and careers here.
I am very excited about this opportunity to expand. For the first time ever, we will have some help from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and Glen Arbor Township, whose stated goals are right in line with ours: Improve wastewater treatment, create jobs, rebuild obsolete buildings, and develop more year-round housing for people who work in Glen Arbor.
There is an old philosophy, “Build it, and they will come.” Today, Cherry Republic’s philosophy is, “They have already come — build it!”