Sister Lakes Brewing Company to renovate outdoor seating space

SISTER LAKES — A local brewery is making plans to offer permanent outdoor seating for customers to enjoy.

Tuesday evening, the Keeler Township Planning Commission approved Sister Lakes Brewing Company’s site plan review to improve its outdoor seating space.

Last year, restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic compelled eateries across the state to apply for temporary outdoor seating. After obtaining the permit, Sister Lakes Brewing installed a beer garden with a large tent and picnic tables in the backyard of the property.

“Heading into last summer coming out of the lockdown, we identified the need for some outdoor seating,” said Brian Morin, co-owner of Sister Lakes Brewing Company. “The Michigan Liquor Control Commission provided an opportunity for bars, restaurants and breweries to do an expedited outdoor seating area. It was a temporary permit so we applied for that and we’re granted and we worked with [zoning administrator Allyn Anthony] last year to make sure we had what we needed for the temporary space. When we did that, it all happened very quickly. Now that it’s going to be permanent, we want to actually make it a little nicer so it’s a better dining experience.”

The plan includes installing concrete under the 60-by-55-foot tent and adding 6-foot fences along both the south side of the building and along Marshall Street, as well as a shorter fence on the north side which opens up into the rest of the property. The tent will up during the spring and summer months and will be taken down in the fall.

“One of the problems we had last year was that tables were in the dirt,” Brian said. “It wasn’t a very nice experience. So, we want to pour some concrete under the tent and then add a more permanent fence. Last year, we had a snow fence but we want to add a more permanent wood privacy fence that’s going to look nicer, do some landscaping and just make it feel like a really nice place for people who want to come and enjoy their time.”

The brewery’s temporary permit currently allows it to offer outdoor seating from April to October. Once the permanent modifications are completed, the brewery can offer outdoor seating year-round if it wishes.

“If it’s a nice day in December or if someone wants to sit out there they can,” Brian said. “But we would primarily be using it to give us some overflow during the summer season especially this year at 50 percent capacity. It’ll allow us to spill outside during the busy weekends.”

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