Microbrewery coming to Crankers

The local eatery will be making its own beverages

Cranker’s will soon have its own Big Rapids brew when a microbrewery opens up this coming spring.

Cranker’s Coney Island, a 24-hour restaurant, will be re-named Cranker’s Coney Island and Brewpubs after its grand-reopening. Cranker’s will serve at least six craft beers, a root beer, a cream soda and an energy drink called “The Cranker.”

The Big Rapids City Commission approved a tax abatement for JPE Restaurant Corporation, the company that owns Cranker’s. The last abatements were passed at Nov. 1 City Commission meeting to finalize the project.

“The fact that he (Jim Crank, owner of Cranker’s) is going to be brewing his own alcoholic beverages, power drinks, root beer drinks will be a significant asset to him and the business,” said Steve Sobers, Big Rapids city manager.

Courtney VanOeffelen, a junior in graphic design, thinks it’s an excellent idea for Cranker’s to add a microbrewery.

“That sounds sweet, I think a lot of people would like that,” said VanOeffelen.

Sobers said, “the fortunate thing with Crankers is since they are manufacturing on site, it is classified as industrial use,” he said.

He also said they have an industrial element to it and the city was able to give them a tax break, which will help with expanding the restaurant and adding the brewing system.

Sobers said there will be as many as 30 jobs added after Cranker’s Coney Island and Brewpubs is opened.

“That’s a significant number,” said Sobers, adding, “It’ll be very good to have 30 more jobs available in this environment.”

Sobers said Crank is planning on adding some significant square footage to the current Cranker’s building, including remodeling the exterior.

Crank told the Big Rapids Pioneer his goal is to have the restaurant’s grand reopening by March 15, 2011. In addition, he said he has wanted to open a brewpub for a while and was glad to finally do it in Big Rapids.

He estimates the project will cost about $815,000. As soon as Crank’s product line is in production, Cranker’s will begin to distribute the product, which may add another 10 jobs in distribution and sales positions. The city of Big Rapids is helping Cranker’s get started on this project.

Crank said he is committed to keeping the project Michigan-made by contracting with local construction companies.

“I really look forward to his construction design and another aesthetic amenity to pass, something fresh and new-going in a community,” said Sobers.

VanOeffelen also said, “Plus everything tastes better if it’s not the same as every other place, you know?”

Sobers believes this is a great opportunity for Cranker’s, adding, “I think it will be a good addition for the community and a very nice place to go and eat, it will be very unique.” n