After two and a half years, hundreds of hours of work, and many obstacles overcome, Hillsdale Brewing Company is finally open.
The restaurant officially opened for business at 25 Hillsdale Street on Jan. 22, featuring eight beers on tap, as well as a menu with pizzas, deli-style sandwiches, and soups.
The owners of the new restaurant are Roy and Felicia Finch, along with Cinda Conant. Kevin Conant is the owner of Here’s to You Pub and Grub, and is now a brewer at Hillsdale Brewing Company.
Roy Finch said the extensive renovations done to meet fire codes on the old Boyd Hotel, the stately building in which the brewery is located, is the reason the brewery took so long to open.
“We were kind of blinded by the building and overlooked how hard it would be to make this place work,” Roy Finch said. “Every time we had to adjust to meet one of the codes that was 5 or 10 thousand dollars. If we had bought a place uptown we probably would have been done a year or maybe a year and a half ago.”
A major setback occurred when an unmarked and broken sewage pipe delayed the construction of a new driveway that was needed to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“We didn’t know that our sewer was crushed, or that it ran onto Union Street instead of Hillsdale Street,” Finch said. “That was another $5,000.”
After two years of renovations on the buildings, the team opening the brewery was looking for something to go smoothly.
“We just wanted good news for once,” Finch said. “We wanted something to go right, and finally this last month, everything seemed to go our way.”
Now that the renovation is complete and the open sign is lit, the wait has made the emotion of opening the business that much stronger.
The wait has been even longer for Kevin Conant, who has been brewing his own beer for over 10 years.
“We are all just excited,” said Conant. “It’s just been a crazy, crazy thing.”
Roy and Felicia Finch also felt the emotion upon opening their own business.
“Felicia started crying when the Health Inspector told us we were good to open,” Roy Finch said. “It didn’t hit me until we put all of the kegs in the cooler and poured a beer from all of them. Then I cried like a baby.”
The Roy and Felicia Finch have two kids, ages 5 and 2, and Kevin Conant also has a 2‑year-old daughter. Felicia Finch said she hopes the institution will gain a reputation for being family friendly.
“We want to be family friendly with good beer and good food,” Finch said. “This is ultimately our retirement and hopefully something we can pass onto our kids.”
Not only have the owners been wanting to open Hillsdale Brewing Company for a long time, but residents of Hillsdale have been eagerly awaiting the opening of the brewery. The Facebook page for the business had amassed over 2,000 likes on Facebook prior to its official opening date. Now those fans have a chance to actually go in and sample the dishes and drinks for which they’ve long been waiting.
“I know there are students up the hill who thought they would graduate before this place ever opened,” Finch said. “I’ve been coming in here so long for work that having it functional is going to be odd for me.”