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Brewery breaks ground at historic Red Barn

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Work has begun to turn Saugatuck’s Red Barn Theatre into a brewery, event center and yurt-rental business.

Guardian Brewing Co. broke ground at the 3657 63rd St. 3-acre site north of Blue Star Highway and east of the I-196 Exit 41 bridge, last week.

The existing building includes the historic 12,672-square-foot Red Barn, built in 1900 and converted into a theatre about 50 years ago; plus a 6,000-square-foot steel building constructed in 2004. The parcel hosts onsite parking for roughly 100 vehicles.

Owner and head brewer Kim Collins joined business manager Katie Bishop forming Guardian Brewing Co. in Colorado in 2012 performing services for others while eyeing their own establishment.

Their vision included a restaurant/brewpub, education offerings and rental of yurts: round, traditionally-portable structures with collapsible wood frames and fabric coverings.

Gen 1 Architecture and CL Construction started work on site last week.

“We are excited to begin the transformation of an iconic venue into a place that everyone can enjoy again,” said Collins. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but have an excellent team and are confident of the outcome.”

The project will be divided into phases, with the first being the brewery, taproom, and limited-menu auxiliary kitchen.

The second phase will focus on a full kitchen build-out, the old barn event space, outdoor patio and yurts.

The remaining changes to the property are in planning stages, but may include vegetable and herb gardens, walking paths and landscaped spaces to explore.

Guardian has also acquired the 23 acres across the street and will work with the community and Laketown Township to determine the transformation of the existing farm field.

The firm plans to incorporate a music theme to the historic nature of the existing theater and start with 20 taps of beer, hard cider, wine and signature cocktails.

The menu will be limited until expansion on a full, open kitchen, but will bring as many fresh and local options as possible, Collins said.

“We are excited to be an addition to West Michigan and establishment that will contribute year-round offerings to the community,” she continued.

“We hope to have a significant social and economic impact on the area by providing a unique place to enjoy great beer and food and through year-round employment and philanthropic contributions.”

Guardian is scheduled to open in December and begin hiring employees in October. For more information, visit guardianbrewingco.com.