LAPEER, MI – A popular barbecue restaurant in downtown Lapeer is expanding its business with more space, drinks and rental space.
Woodchips, a small welcoming restaurant under 1,700 square feet, plans to double in size by the end of the year, which will allow the company to add 60 additional seats and more space for events creative.
Plans have been underway to add more space at the restaurant, 315 W. Nepessing St. in Lapeer, since 2016, Patrick Hingst, owner of Woodchips, told MLive-The Flint Journal.
âWe have a sister building right next to us which is like our lookalike and we knew this would be our only chance to expand without moving elsewhere, so it was put up for sale in our second year,â Hingst said. . “We put all our money together just so we could try to get a mortgage and buy this building and we were able to do it.”
The neighboring building will be connected to the original building by a door.
The new side will include a dining room, a prep kitchen, and the ability to host private and sophisticated events.
The existing side will get a new look with tops with more of a bar setup. Hingst is also considering extending the hours on the existing side until later that night.
âAt the end of the day, that’s what people want,â Hingst said. âI have ideas, but anything people want will pay for and get excited. This is what will fascinate me.
The upstairs portion of the new addition will be renovated into a luxury apartment which will include a front area that can be used to host private events, dinners, wedding and baby parties and other events.
While construction is underway and should be completed before the end of the year, it has been a difficult task, the owner said.
One of the most important elements of the project included the installation of a water supply line and sprinkler system. These are some of the requirements for real estate with residential space upstairs and commercial space downstairs.
âThe dilapidated infrastructure does not provide sufficient water pressure to be able to operate the sprinkler system,â Hingst said. “We’ve gone from a budget of around $ 125,000 to $ 150,000 and before it’s all said and done we’re going to be somewhere between $ 400,000 and $ 500,000 in the expanding space.”
Hingst said loans made by the Small Business Administration during the pandemic helped dedicate more funds to the project, which began construction last June.
Despite the expensive and long-running project, business for the restaurant has been excellent, Hingst said.
âThe summer has been a record for us,â said Hingst, acknowledging that the positive result is due to his loyal staff.
The popular restaurant offers barbecue classics, but also egg rolls made with smoked meat, vegetables and sauces.
Once the new addition is complete, Hingst will only need to hire a few more people to help manage the new side.
âI’m definitely pushing and working really hard to make sure this opens up this year,â Hingst said.
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