SO ARE THERE enough breweries in Marquette County yet?
The Upper Peninsula Brewing Company in Negaunee will soon enter the fray, likely in late summer if construction deadlines are met and permits are granted in a timely manner (that’s often been the hangup).
It’ll actually be a brew pub, serving both beer and food, occupying the old Lafreniere’s Furniture building at 342 Rail Street (above photo). The building dates back to the 1880s.
It’s the brainchild of local developer Jim Kantola and brewer Ryan Engemann, who’s from downstate. He’s been in the brewing business since 2011 and recently relocated up here.
“I’ve wanted to live up here for quite a while,” Engemann says, “and Jim reached out to me. This town has a lot of potential and I want to be part of it.”
Construction’s been underway for the last few months–a new roof, stairs, windows. The bar is currently being framed in.
The new business will be a revival of the old brewery in Negaunee.
Two floors. The bottom floor will have a pub-like atmosphere, the second floor more family-friendly. Seating for up to 100 people on each floor. “Elevated pub food” is what Engemann says they’ll be serving.
There actually was an Upper Peninsula Brewing Company in Negaunee more than a century ago. It operated from 1880 to 1918 when state prohibition drove it out of business. The new guys are reclaiming the name, although they’re in a different building..
Can this venture make it financially in Negaunee, a community that has struggled to revive its downtown? Well, Jackson Pit down the street has succeeded, and next door in Ishpeming, Cognition Brewing and Jasper Ridge Brewery and Restaurant have also made it.
The desire for more eating and drinking establishments in western Marquette County is certainly there.
Now it’s just a matter of finding people with money, energy, and expertise willing to take a chance on an exciting–but risky–investment.
PARTY TIME IN Marquette this weekend.
The Way UP Music Festival–a brand new event–runs Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at Lakeview Arena. Thirty-plus bands playing on two stages. Food, drink, fun.
Until 2 am.
“For the last few years, we’ve been sitting here in Marquette on Memorial Day and there’s nothing to do,” says Bill Digneit of Double Trouble Entertainment, which organized the festival. “And people keep telling us they want live music here at Lakeview Arena so we’re doing it.”
Double Trouble, Radio Results Network, and several other businesses are co-sponsoring the event.
Oldtimers will recall that Lakeview used to attract some big names–Def Leppard, Black Crowes, and Kiss. Way UP will have nothing like that but the bands will be good and fun and varied. Wannabe, Afroman, The Werks, a Tom Petty tribute band, a Bob Marley tribute band, a Grateful Dead tribute band, a Spice Girls tribute band. Diverse, to say the least.
Tickets are inexpensive–$20 for one night, $30 for Friday and Saturday, or $50 VIP tickets for Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Digneit says 500 tickets have been sold so far. He thinks the walk-up business will be huge, swelling the crowd to well over 1000.
Again, as in Negaunee, this is something new with entrepreneurs willing to take a chance. And, oh, by the way, some of the money raised by Way UP will go to nonprofits.
So you can party knowing that, while doing so, you’re helping your community.