Dexter’s local craft brewery may be expanding to include a restaurant.
Northern United Brewing Company’s plans to expand their NULL Taphouse with the addition of NULL 2, a restaurant, are moving forward.
NULL 2 is set to be located at 2319 Bishop Cir., adjacent to NULL and Northern United’s brewing facility. The restaurant will have a capacity for 109 but seating is being planned for around 85 patrons.
When the NULL Taphouse was originally proposed the brewery had no plans to add a kitchen. Jon Carlson, one of the owners at Northern United, explained that the outpouring of support for the Taphouse created a shift in plans.
“Definitely we weren’t planning on cooking anything,” he said. “We just have been so happy about our decision to be in Dexter and have been so embraced by the community as well as other Michiganders and tourists. We love this community we want to continue to grow here.”
Carlson also noted the influx of visitors NULL has seen from around the state and country travel to Dexter to taste their libations.
“It’s pretty exciting that we have people from all over the country coming to visit and they’re coming to Dexter,” he said.
Northern United will hire 12 new employees to staff NULL 2.
“We’re bringing our best chef,” Carlson said. “She’s giving up her job in Ann Arbor. She wants to be in Dexter; she doesn’t want to be in Ann Arbor.”
As the issue has been discussed at the Planning Commission and City Council levels, a few have expressed concern over whether or not the Industrial Park is a fitting place for a restaurant. As it currently stands, the expansion project is a special land use. Typically restaurants are not permitted in the Industrial Park as it’s zoned as research and development. However, because the expansion would represent 15 percent or less of the building’s square footage it’s being treated as an accessory use.
“It appears to me that we seem to be stretching procedures, stretching definitions to make it be more palatable to approve a use that I don’t believe was ever intended,” Planning Commissioner Jack Donaldson said.
Planning Commissioner Jim Carty said he supports the expansion because although it wasn’t part of the original plan for the Taphouse, it serves as a positive addition to the city.
“I think we have here a very good city of Dexter employer who has brought something unique to the city of Dexter,” he said. “I don’t view it as a threat to the nature of the industrial park because it’s clearly an ancillary slice of this business.”
The Planning Commission will hold a public meeting on the issue at their regular Nov. 2 meeting before deciding whether or not to recommend City Council approve the expansion. If the project passes NULL 2 will aim for a late spring opening.