Success stories

Rare Bird Brewpub

Traverse City, Michigan

As they prepare to celebrate their first year anniversary, Rare Bird is on pace for at least 20% net growth in 2015 delighting everyone involved in this exciting new enterprise.

Rare Bird Brewpub is a gastropub and brewery founded by Tina Schuett and Nate Crane in June 2014. Brewmaster Schuett credits her time spent in Germany as pivotal in her decision to begin brewing beer, an interest she pursued during and post-college. She landed her first job as a brewer in a Wisconsin brewery and later in a second Traverse City brewery. After thousands of hours brewing and learning, she felt ready to take on the challenge of crafting batch beer and managing an evolving inventory for her own business.

Crane is a Traverse City native who has been part of the craft brew scene for many years. Because of his time spent behind the bar and managing other brewpubs, he brings to this business a clear understanding of customer happiness.

Crane and Schuett had worked together previously and knew they could make the concept work. When a building became available, they took the leap. They secured a full class C liquor license allowing them to offer their own six to eight beers plus a wide selection of beer from other breweries on the remaining 35 taps. They also offer cider, bottled beer, spirits and a rotating selection of wine.

The popular menu is described as an “eclectic fusion” with some favorites and several new items quarterly.

Despite a challenging pre-opening period spent reconstructing their 1930s historic warehouse, it’s been all taps flowing since day one. The business has benefited from the craft beer boom, but without exceptional product, they wouldn’t have been able to withstand the growing competition. Open seven days a week, Rare Bird showcases musical performances that add to the hip vibe.

A unique business required a unique financing strategy. They began with a significant owners’ contribution and a loan from the local Cherryland Electric Utility Cooperative then began to layer additional resources. Crane says, “Northern Initiatives was a pivotal aspect of our layered financing. I met our local NI [Northern Initiatives] lending officer, Chris Wendel before we started Rare Bird. We shared a mutual respect for craft beer and the possibilities within the growing industry. When Tina and I solidified our plans, they came on board and teamed with our regional lender, First Community Bank, for working capital.” The owners feel Northern Initiatives’ loan along with traditional funding gave them credibility and contributed to their successful final phase, a crowdfunding appeal on the Indiegogo platform.

Rare Bird Brewpub Impacts:

  • Jobs Created: 4
  • Jobs Retained: 22


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