By Scott Sullivan
Saugatuck’s historic Red Barn Theater may become home of Guardian Brewing Co., which plans to host everything from a brewery, restaurant, event center and yurt rentals — What else? — at 3657 63rd St.
Guardian owner Kim Collins, given Laketown Township Planning Commission approval Nov. 1, plans to purchase the highway commercial-zoned property from Ralph Baker, install customized brewing equipment and perform other renovations with an eye to opening in January 2019.
The 3-acre site, which also fronts Blue Star Highway east of I-196 Exit 41, was listed with Brett Zeerip of Coldwell Banker and reportedly sold for just under $300,000.
It includes the 12,672-square-foot Red Barn Theatre, built in 1900 and converted into a theatre about 50 years ago, plus a 6,000-square-foot steel building constructed in 2004 and ready for many uses. The parcel hosts onsite parking for roughly 100 vehicles.
Laketown recently recommended the Michigan Liquor Control Commission approve Guardian’s liquor license transfer.
Baker, of RB Land, bought the property in 2003. He ran a flea market in the pole barn behind the original structure and leased the barn/theatre to non-profit arts groups the Lakeshore Arts Alliance, then, the last two years, 63rd Street Productions.
Collins, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, developed a love for Lake Michigan and the outdoors during trips to Miller Beach. She studied outdoor recreation at Indiana University, where she played for the women’s rugby club.
As a professor who taught recreation health at IU, she developed a passion for home brewing that led her to acquire a Master Brewers Association malting and brewing certificate and serve an apprenticeship at Tommyknocker Brewing in Idaho Springs, Colo.
She and business manager Katie Bishop formed Guardian Brewing Co. 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.
“There wasn’t enough water in Colorado to supply the brewing we had in mind,” said Collins. “That’s not a problem in Michigan. We looked at properties from Muskegon to New Buffalo, but Saugatuck was the clear winner.
“We love that it’s hyper-local, has a vibrant arts scene, outdoors and character. We can’t wait.”
Guardian figures to locate its brewery, offices and classrooms in the newer pole barn; a restaurant/brewpub serving breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round in the breezeway; and host or rent out the Red Barn Theatre for special events, receptions, shows and more.
For more information about the proposed operation, visit guardianbrewingco.com.