Iron Shoe Distillery awarded grant for expansion

NILES – On Tuesday, a Niles restaurant was named one of 21 local businesses in Michigan to receive a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.

Iron Shoe Distillery, at 3 N. Third St., was awarded a grant of $25,000 from the MEDC through the 2021 Match on Main program.

“We are very excited to partner with the MEDC; it’s a great program,” said Iron Shoe co-owner Laura Tuthill. “This money will help us expand by doubling the size of our current kitchen.”

Co-owner Howard Tuthill said the program requires businesses to match the grant.

“With our expansion, we’ll easily match that,” he said.

Iron Shoe Distillery is planning to expand its dining room and have a rooftop bar and patio to add capacity.

“What we have right now is small. We pump out a huge amount of food out of our kitchen for the size that it is,” Howard said. “The bigger kitchen will definitely help us meet the added capacity.”

Along with the added capacity for diners and larger kitchen to accommodate, the distillery will also see expansions to increase its production capacity.

“With COVID, obviously there is a lot of unknowns,” Howard said. “I don’t know how many times we have had to pivot our entire business model, going from restaurant and distillery to producing hand sanitizer overnight, and then literally back. Going forward, who knows what the capacity restrictions are going to be and all of that. At least with the added space, we’ll be able to see more people and have more space.”

The grant was written by the Niles Downtown Development Authority/Niles Main Street.

According Lisa Croteau, the DDA’s director of marketing and administration, this is the fourth grant from the MEDC downtown businesses have received. In the past, Trap House 24 SLR, Niles Brewing Company and Gabrizio Italian Café and Bakery have also received grants from the Match on Main program.

“This year, [the MEDC] added Certified Redevelopment Ready communities,” Croteau said.

This distinction opened up the eligibility for communities and businesses across the state.

“[The MEDC] very much like for the grants to go to businesses that are working in a transformational strategy,” Croteau said. “ The [Niles DDA] transformational strategy is food. To have a restaurant doing an expansion is a really good project for this.”

According to a release from the MEDC, more than $500,000 was awarded in Match on Main grants this cycle.

“The grants are expected to create or retain 69 full-time and 71 part-time jobs, and the projects are expected to generate a total private investment of nearly $2 million,” according to the release.

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