New Old Mission Community Center with distillery, cafe and restaurant aims to open Q4 2022

A new distillery, restaurant, cafe and community gathering space could open on the Old Mission Peninsula as early as this fall. The project, a redevelopment of the Seven Hills shopping complex just north of Devil’s Dive Road, has been underway for two years now. After several delays and back-and-forths with Peninsula Township over zoning and other sticking points, the contractors leading the redevelopment effort say they’re finally in the home stretch.

In December 2020, The ticker reported that a trio of local entrepreneurs – Troy Daily, Jay Milliken and Jordan Valdmanis – were buying the two-acre commercial property at 13795 Seven Hills Road on Old Mission Peninsula, with plans for redevelopment. This property includes the Seven Hills Shopping Complex, which previously housed a massage parlour, patent law office and art studio. At the time, Daily, Milliken and Valdmanis were seeking a special use permit from the township to reinvent the complex into a new community center that would potentially include a cafe, distillery tasting room, restaurant, retail space at the retail, a farmers market, health and fitness studios, and boutique accommodations.

While the vision for a community center is still intact, some of these components are no longer part of the plan.

“We had to modify and adjust our plans based on township and health department regulations and all the approvals we have in Peninsula Township,” Daily says. One of the obstacles to this particular project, he notes, is the fact that the Township of Peninsula does not generally work with commercial developments, given that the vast majority of land in Old Mission is zoned residential or agricultural. . “[This property] is really the only commercial land on the peninsula that is not yet developed into a restaurant or commercial activity,” Daily notes. “And so, we’ve struggled with the township trying to figure out what we can and can’t do – because they don’t really know.”

Despite shutdowns and restarts, Daily recounts The ticker that he and his partners – a contingent that now includes a fourth player, Brian Peace – have all the relevant approvals in hand and are finally “under construction” on the Seven Hills project (pictured). He predicts further delays to come due to labor shortages and project backlogs in the construction world, but hopes the project will be complete and ready to open by the “fourth quarter.” of this year “.

The anchor tenant of the new development will be a hybrid café and distillery tasting room that Daily, Milliken, Valdmanis and Peace will own and operate. Called Old Mission Distilling, the business will be a cocktail bar, but with a cafe element that will operate throughout the day. Milliken sees this hybrid setup as a way to bring something new to Old Mission Peninsula.

“We’re all residents of Old Mission, we all grew up here, and we really want to focus on the local community,” says Milliken. “Currently there isn’t really a gathering place on the peninsula unless you want to go to a bar, restaurant or winery. We want to create a kind of community place where people can go, from 7am, all day, all night – a place where you can work, a place where you can have meetings – which will be opened as a ‘come one’, come all’ type of environment. And yes, you will be able to have a drink, but our vision is to have a very nice gathering place for the community.

Old Mission Distilling will not have any distilling or bottling operations on premises at the Seven Hills resort and will not manufacture its own liquor in-house. Instead, the company is partnering with Mammoth Distilling to produce a range of spirits under the Old Mission Distilling label. “They’ll make the spirits for us, but we’ll partner with them to put our own spin on the products and to do one-off runs and seasonal things,” says Milliken. Daily, which works closely with Mammoth for some of its other business ventures including Kayak, Bike & Brew and Jacob’s Farm, says the partnership was a natural and logical fit.

Although it does not make its own spirits, Old Mission Distilling will still be considered a distillery tasting room and therefore have a limited liquor license. Establishments with a distillery license can only serve the alcohol they produce, which means that Old Mission Distilling will not be allowed to serve beer, wine, spirits made by other manufacturers or any other type of alcoholic beverage.

Even given all the delays elsewhere for Old Mission Distilling, Milliken says the project shouldn’t be stuck in liquor license limbo. The business has all necessary approvals from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission and other relevant agencies, and should have its liquor license squared as long as it passes a final inspection.

Beyond the tasting room and cafe, Daily says the new Seven Hill center “will have a restaurant, which we’ll rent out.” Tinker Studio will also occupy part of the resort space, an art studio and longtime tenant of the Seven Hills resort which Milliken says will double its previous square footage.

As for other tenants, Milliken expects the most likely other components of the complex to be retail and a salon. Daily notes that, in accordance with township regulations and zoning requirements, other previously proposed inclusions – such as a farmers market and boutique accommodations element – ​​will not be part of the project at this time.

According to Milliken, the ultimate goal is to find tenants who will underscore the local mission and vision for the development. “The people we talked to for our show, for our retail, for our food and beverage, they’re all local residents of Old Mission,” says Milliken. “You won’t see, say, a Jimmy John’s there. These will be businesses run by young entrepreneurs; artistic people – people who do cool things in the community that make sense. We are very selective about who we want to work with, because we want it to be a really special place. »

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