Tecumseh Brewing Company coming to downtown
One of the owners of Tecumseh Brewing Company LLC, coming soon to 128 W. Chicago Blvd., chose the city to begin a new business after extensive research, and the other has always wanted to grow a business in his hometown.
Kyle DeWitt and Tim Schmidt did not previously know each other until they met as coworkers at the Blue Tractor, a brewery in Ann Arbor, then found they had Tecumseh connections. Kyle’s wife, Holly, owns Blush Boutique, which opened in 2011, and the couple researched several cities from their home in California before deciding to come to Tecumseh. Tim grew up here, the son of former Mayor Harvey Schmidt who also owns Schimdt and Sons Pharmacy.
“One day Tim and I were talking and I asked him what he wanted to do long term, and he said, ‘open a brewery,’” said Kyle. “I said, ‘Me, too,’ so we went out for beer and talked about our ideas.”
The Tecumseh Brewing Company LLC is a business that has been in the making for approximately three years, Kyle said. They first looked for a location near the University of Michigan, scouting other communities such as Saline.
“Ever since I first started home brewing, I thought it would be great to have a microbrewery in Tecumseh,” said Tim. “When I would come home in the summers, I was always looking for something to do.”
Kyle said coincidentally, when he and Holly were looking for a place to settle down and perhaps start new businesses, they encountered the Hyatt-Palma study the city had commissioned in the late 2000s.
“The study noted that people wanted to see more restaurants and entertainment downtown,” said Kyle. “We’ve seen other microbreweries in similar size towns being successful, and we know that the locals will support us.”
He said one indication has been the popularity of the brewery’s Facebook page, which keeps adding followers.
As they formulated their ideas and plans, one of the places they considered was the Tecumseh Community Center. They learned that it would require a lot more capital than they would be able to put together because of its large size and maintenance needs. They also looked at the site that later became JR’s Hometown Grill and Pub.
“The more we looked, the clearer it became that we needed to be downtown,” Kyle said. So when the building housing the former Cowboy’s Grill became available in March of 2013, they purchased it — and returned to the business of seeking financing.
The entrepreneurs soon connected with Chris Miller, Adrian’s Economic Development Director, who was assisting State Rep. Nancy Jenkins with a crowdfunding bill, otherwise known as the Michigan Invests Locally Exemption (MILE) that would allow businesses to raise funding from investors in the community. Another network link was Tim Robinson of Lenawee Now, and soon the brewery became the first company to use the MILE law.
“Through this, we are able to generate funding from people we know and people we don’t know,” said Kyle.
Potential investors will be able to go to localstake.com on Thursday, March 20, when it goes live, and view the company’s profile, business plans, financial projections and estimated return on investment.
“It’s a really simple process and is basically a revenue share,” said Kyle. The new business owners hope to raise between $150,000 and $175,000 through the crowdfunding website, and will be making a total investment of approximately $.5 million into the community. And that’s one of the key words to Tim and Kyle.
“We plan on being more than just a restaurant and brewery in Tecumseh,” they note on a promotional sheet. “Rather, we want to be a brewpub for the community.”
They plan to host and sponsor community events like a Beer Run, the River Raisin Canoe Race, a disc golf tournament and festivals for holidays.
Tim has won more than 20 medals for his beers at the World Beer Championships and has received Best in Class Awards from All About Beer magazine. Kyle has several years of experience with brewery bar management as well as a decade of brewery bar training.
They plan to have approximately 20-24 kinds of beer available at the restaurant, and will have food representing that of a neighborhood tavern, with high quality pub fare prepared with primarily local ingredients.
“We plan to serve sausage and cheese plates, hummus plates, salads, sandwiches, nachos and quesadillas,” said Kyle. “It may be a smaller menu with 15-20 items, but we plan to make it really good.”
The Tecumseh Brewery expects to employ up to 10 staff members initially, and could be hiring and training by September.
The crowdfunding website will be open for investment for 90 days, so the owners said they plan to open potentially in the fall.
“It could be sooner if things move quickly, but we have to order and buy the equipment and do the build-out,” said Kyle. Kriegoff-Lenawee will be the contractor. “What we’d really like is to be open a couple of weeks before Appleumpkin so we can be a part of that.”
Tim and Kyle said they may begin promoting their new business among community members very soon. One of the planned events is a Beer Tasting Meet and Greet, which they hope to organize within the next month or two.
“What we really want to do is make The Tecumseh Brewery a fun place to just hang out,” said Kyle.