By Tony Wittkowski | Business Reporter | The Herald-Palladium
BENTON TOWNSHIP — Jay Fettig didn’t know if he would be able to open his microbrewery in time for the Senior PGA Championship set to begin next week.
With a bit of persistence, the St. Joseph resident has hosted a few soft openings in anticipation for North Pier Brewing Co.’s official opening Monday.
“This was always the deadline to finish construction and have the beer ready,” Fettig said. “It’s such a great opportunity to get some good exposure during the golf tournament.”
Fettig will certainly get the needed foot traffic new businesses crave when the golf tournament returns to Benton Harbor for the third time in six years. The microbrewery, which is in a renovated building at 670 North Shore Drive in Benton Township, has been a few years in the making.
The building has gone from a gas station to a bird house factory to a motorcycle repair shop before it was transformed into North Pier. Fettig put in the work after receiving a special use permit from the township’s Board of Trustees to renovate the building and sell alcohol.
Fettig chose the specific building, built in the 1920s, because it’s something he’s driven past nearly every Saturday morning between trips to Harbor Shores.
“I golf with my dad, so I’ve driven past this building on a golf cart probably hundreds of times going between (holes) 13 and 14,” Fettig said. “When I saw the ‘for sale’ sign there, I thought it might be too small. I looked at a few other buildings and nothing really stuck.”
When he looked inside, it was bigger than Fettig thought. He bought the space in July 2015.
The microbrewery won’t be large enough to house a kitchen, Fettig said, so the company will team up with North Shore Inn across the street to provide customers with food.
“With North Shore Inn being so close, it seemed to make sense to partner with them,” he said. “I talked to the owners of North Shore, and they were open to do an almost takeout service for our customers. We would have their menus here. We just want people to have a good time and enjoy a beer and maybe one of their burgers.”
Just the beginning
When the doors open Monday, North Pier will have six beers on tap.
Once the microbrewery gets past its opening week, Fettig said they plan to brew more existing styles to have 12 different beers, add a nitrolized coffee tap and eventually offer homemade soda. Like most breweries, Fettig said they plan for an expansion in the event that they outgrow the available space. North Pier has room for 60 people inside with seating for 24 outside.
Including Fettig, North Pier will have three full-time workers and nine part-time employees.
One of the signature touches at the microbrewery are the tables and lower part of the bar, which have pieces of wood from Fettig’s uncle’s barn integrated with the setup. Adding to the building’s design and look was important to Fettig.
“Just to see the transformation in the building has been a great experience,” Fettig said. “It doesn’t feel like that long ago when we were doing test batches in my parents’ garage to brewing production-style batches here.”
North Pier’s hours will be noon to 10 p.m. on Sundays through Wednesdays and noon to 11 p.m. on Thursdays through Saturdays. Those with questions about the beer list can call North Pier at 269-757-7163 or visit www.northpierbrewing.com.
With the official opening day set, Fettig admitted his schedule has been hectic the last few weeks between getting the tap room ready, making sure the beers are brewed and prepping for the arrival of twins.
“It’s been hard balancing that with trying to get home and see my family, while planning ahead so if I’m not here, I’ll know it’s in good hands,” he said. “I’d be lying if it wasn’t a little stressful.”