Fenton Officials Select Clarkston Union, Arbor Brewing Co. as Finalists

Committee believe either business would fit in community and old Fenton Fire Hall.

It's down to the final two: The next tenant for the Old Fenton Fire Hall will be the owners of or the .

Fenton Downtown Development Authority members Tom Bertschy, DDA Vice Chairman Jim Saule and DDA member Doug James all chose the two business and said they would be a great fit for Fenton.

"All were well qualified, but two stood out in my mind," Saule said. "A lot of good community involvement is important for Fenton. Their menu's spoke as well."

A financial analysis of the final candidates will be conducted that may take up to 30 days to complete. A recommendation from the committee will then be made to the full DDA Board for approval. The group hopes to have decisions finalized by the DDA meeting on June 19.

"I always thought it would be down to these two," DDA Director Michael Burns said. "Either one would be a great choice. Either one would bridge Fenton."

The deal is likely for the DDA to lease the building for $1 a year for seven years and then sell it for $1.

Read about the full old Fenton Fire Hall interviews on Fenton Patch.

The DDA and the terminated its lease of the on April 26. 

Kelly May 22, 2012 at 08:30 PM
I think they should let the residents vote on who they want to occupy the old fire hall. We don't get too much say around here, it would be nice to have something the residents actually "want".
Jason Alexander (Editor) May 22, 2012 at 08:32 PM
What do you think?
Chris May 22, 2012 at 09:13 PM
I think the two best proposals were chosen. I'd be happy with either. But I still lean a little toward the Arbor Brewing Company. Can't wait!
Gary May 22, 2012 at 09:29 PM
I attended the four presentations today. I fully agree with the committee recommendation. The final two choices clearly stood out and are what FENTON needs.
Steve May 23, 2012 at 12:53 AM
Michigan Brewing Company went bankrupt. That's why they are no longer involved.
Adam May 23, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Both are great choices, and I would love to have both in Fenton. But if we really want to create a regional destination, the choice is clearly Arbor Brewing Co. A Michigan craft brewer with a great reputation has the ability to draw multiple age demographics from around the area. Whether it be Flint, Davison, Grand Blanc, Swartz Creek, Fenton, Linden, Holly, even Hartland and Brighton. This could really draw people to this area. Opportunities like this do not come along often. These craft brewers are not all about growth and expansion. Its a unique opportunity that if passed on would likely not come again. I hope the Fenton DDA makes the right choice.
beach May 23, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Yes, the choice is clear. It's the Clarkston Union. Fenton needs a unique concept. A brewery is fine, but it's not a destination. A brewery is not going to make news because it's not anything new. A restaurant with a fresh concept with proven award-winning food and a best-of beer list is a destination. There is a reason for the wait in Clarkston.
Adam May 23, 2012 at 03:07 AM
I agree that the restaurant the Union owners proposed is a great concept and would have great food. No doubt about it. But to say a brewery is not a destination is completely false. The craft beer community is growing and is growing fast. There are many people in this surrounding are that make drives to Grand Rapids, Battle Creek, Ann Arbor, Holland, and even Traverse City, a couple times a month, just to enjoy a true craft beer destination. No matter the choice between the two, there is no loss. But one choice could really put Fenton on the map.
anna beaverhausen May 23, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Archie, You seem to always be bashing Mr. Burns and the DDA on Patch. I'm not sure if you know him or them, but the choice is not Mike's to make. If you'd been present to hear the interviews (and you might have been) you clearly would have been agreement with the final 2 selections made today. Both clearly have much to offer our community whether or not Guy Fieri has featured them on his show or not. (what does that have to do with anything any way?) Be very careful accusing anyone connected with the DDA of wrong doing, why put a black eye on a committee who is trying to revitalize our downtown? Come out from behind your Archibald Reginald character and face the public with your false accusations, whoever your really are.
Foodie May 23, 2012 at 02:40 PM
The Union makes their own bacon! Need we say more? People will flock to Fenton for their food, just like they do to Clarkston.
Lenny Haise May 23, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Ditto from Adam. I have gone to Cleveland in search of a good micro brew. I found it.
Dr. Ron May 23, 2012 at 04:53 PM
Union Fire Hall please. Regards, EVERYONE
Dr. Ron May 23, 2012 at 04:57 PM
You do know you can be sued for libel over online comments, right?
Dr. Ron May 23, 2012 at 05:10 PM
First and foremost you sound affiliated with Arbor Brewing Co. Either way, as for a brewery making Fenton a destination; I have visited all of the major Michigan breweries and they are empty most of the time, especially during the week. They generally have a good Th-Sat night, but never a family atmosphere and their food is horrible. Clarkston Union and Woodshop are busy every time I go in there; lunch, a professional happy hour, dinner, Sunday brunch. Not only are the places full of Clarkston natives, but Fenton natives like me, Rochester, Bloomfield, all around Oakland County come up to that town. It's no wonder Woodshop was the Free Press restaurant of the year and both places were on national TV. My wife and I enthusiastically wait for their rendition here in town.
John C May 23, 2012 at 05:38 PM
The guys from Clarkston have their collective stuff together and i would love to see them come to Fenton. I am glad Lockharts didnt make the final 2, for having such a prominent name in BBQ history their food is meiocre.
Chad May 23, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Can't go wrong either way, really. A craft brewery with a resturaunt would be fantastic, and a version of the Union or Union Woodshop in Fenton would sure be a destination for the surrounding area. I find it hard to believe the owners of Sagebrush and/or French Laundry aren't burning the place down to stop any competition.
Willow May 23, 2012 at 06:50 PM
The Union food is wonderful. The folks running those joints are talented, hard working and have impeccable taste. Those restaurants have done wonders for downtown Clarkston. They'll do the same for Fenton if they get the Fire Hall.
Adam May 24, 2012 at 12:08 AM
@Seth_k I can assure you I am in no way affiliated with Arbor Brew. I talk to Jason all the time on Twitter, he can vouch for me. I'm just a craft beer advocate. Especially Michigan craft beer. I'm not sure which breweries you have visited. But I have visited a ton in Michigan and your description could not be more wrong or uninformed. Not sure how they could be "empty most of the time" yet still be recording record profits, increasing production/distribution, and expanding. Founders has some of the best sandwiches I've ever had. Dark Horse and Jolly Pumpkin have fantastic pizzas. Arcadia's food is amazing. Brewery Vivant has THE best French/Belgian inspired food I've ever tasted. I could go on and on. Creating a destination is not all about an article in the freep or having Guy Fieri stop in. It is about creating a greater sense of community, a gathering place for both regulars and passerby's. A craft brewpub can do that. Just ask anyone in the communities I have previously listed. Regardless of the choice, it will be a great addition to Fenton.
Dr. Ron May 24, 2012 at 02:14 AM
Adam, I accused you of bias because I really don't see how any bi-partisan Fenton resident would choose a "brewpub" over what the Union owners proposed. Think big picture. Families or any professional I know isn't going to visit a brewpub 3 times a week -- unless they have a drinking problem. But the Union has countless patrons who do that week in and week out. If you need your craft beer fix, the Union proposal promises limited edition brews (just as they serve in Clarkston). The decision is a no brainer. Places like the French Laundry, Crust bakery and the Union Fire Hall are great for our community. Further, do not underestimate the Union's connections with print and TV media in getting statewide attention for this restaurant. I probably sound affiliated -- I am not -- just an excited resident tired of traveling out of town for food and drinks.
Adam May 24, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Seth, don't worry about sounding affiliated or anything of that matter. It makes no difference. Either way this community wins. The drinking problem comment is absurd. Considering the Union proposal is 60 beers on tap. The Arbor Brew Co establishment will have no where near that. The "craft beer fix" situation is simple. The Union prices their craft beer very similarly to the French Laundry, meaning price gouging and maximizing profit margins. Its the main reason why I (a long with a large contingent of my friends and the local craft beer community) have switch from having drinks at the French Laundry to having drinks at Blackthorn Pub in Holly. A great craft brew place with good food and reasonable prices.
Laurie May 24, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Everybody eats, not all of us drink. I'd rather have a place with great food.
John May 24, 2012 at 03:05 PM
I am not sure if we are looking at the history of Fenton here, each time we have a new place open up that serves alcohol, the police park in front and bust everyone who leaves. That is what runs them out of business. Not that I am supporting drinking and driving, just not in support of a business that bases its revenue on beer. Doesnt make any sense. The church is going to love having the drunk patrons urinate in thier parking lot late on saturday night before they get in to their cars and drive home. This is really going to go well. Great job Fenton. I have an idea, why not put in a strip joint? That would be perfect for the fire hall, they already have the poles!!!
Lainie D. May 28, 2012 at 08:30 PM
Whatever type of eatery/craft brewer ends up in the fire hall....I sure hope they have great food, service, prices & a welcoming atmosphere for all....would be nice to have an alternative to the Sagebrush Cantina (luv their food & priced right), the French Laundry (don't go there anymore....too pricey for what they offer), the Fenton Hotel (not much in the way of a menu/atmosphere)....Applebee's (good food offerings & prices for all), Bob Evans (glad we have them here in Fenton).


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