Ellison Brewery & Spirits announces REO Town location opening date
LANSING – Ellison Brewery & Spirits has announced its new REO Town location will host a soft opening in January, after three years of planning and construction.
Sales and Marketing Director Mark Logusz said the Ellison Brewing-REO Town location plans to host a job fair at 1314 S. Washington Ave. Jan. 5-6, then host a soft opening around Jan. 20 and a “Grand Opening Drag Brunch” Feb. 12.
The brewery and distillery will open in a portion of a historic Lansing structure, the last REO Motor Car Co. building left standing in the city.
“Everybody gets excited when a new place pops up, and so I hope that people are excited to finally see this building get some use,” Logusz said.
Officials announced Ellison would transform the nearly 20,000-square-foot space into a second location in 2018. The new location was originally anticipated to open in late 2018, and then in spring 2021.
But the timeframe was “quite a bit extended” by the COVID-19 pandemic and the “arduous process” of getting approval and permits from the state, Logusz said.
The REO Town location is projected to add 45 jobs, both part- and full-time, he said. Staff at the current 4903 Dawn Ave. location in Okemos will help train workers in preparation for the January opening. People interested in applying can learn more on the brewery’s Facebook pageand website.
When it does open, Ellison wants guests to experience an “ultra-casual environment,” Logusz said.
“If you want to come in and grab a beer and read a book, we have a space for that,” he said. “If you want to sit at the rail and watch the game, we have a space for that.”
The space has been renovated to include both a brewery and an upstairs space for events as large as 200 people. The location includes a large open space with lots of natural light that will be styled like an outdoor year-round patio, just inside. Logusz said they’re still deciding if they’ll plant real trees inside for the space.
He said the REO Town location has more of a brick-and-industrial feel than Ellison’s current location on Dawn Avenue in Meridian Township. The locations will have similar, but unique, menus and beer choices. Ellison’s sour beer series will be produced at the REO Town location.
Some of the building’s renovations include a new electric system, plumbing, new drains, new roof, insulation and paint. Logusz said he didn’t know how much it has cost to open the new space, but the investment has been “considerable.”
“But we think it’s worth it because we really see so much potential in that space,” he said.
The building’s history is a varied one. After REO Motor Car Co. left the building, it served as the headquarters of the Michigan National Guard’s 46th Infantry Division.
More recently it was used by Quality Dairy, which was leasing to Ellison but sold the space to a development company for $475,000 in April 2019.
Ellison’s new venture will occupy the front third of the building, but if it’s successful the company could acquire the rest of the building for a larger event venue to hold up to 500 people, Logusz said.
For now, Ellison plans to utilize its “insanely large” parking lot for festivals in the summer, a potential Christmas market in the winter and more, he said.
“We’d like to give folks a thing to do and bring their families and hang out and really just end up being a part of the community as opposed to just taking from the community,” he said.