Short’s Brewing is a renowned name in the northern Michigan craft brewing community. It’s also becoming a name in the hospitality sector. Last year, it purchased an inn to help with seasonal worker housing, and Short’s CEO Scott Newman-Bale at one point jokingly called it Short’s Rosebud Motel from Schitt’s Creek, but this move is no joke. With the seasonal housing and workforce crisis in the region, the inn is becoming another showcase of the brewery’s innovation and community focus.
Founded over two decades ago, Short’s Brewing has grown from a small local brewery into a major player in the Michigan craft beer scene. In July 2017, Short’s sold 19.9 percent of the company to Lagunitas Brewing Co., which is now 100 percent owned by Heineken International. Throughout its history, Short’s has been known for its creative brews, vibrant community involvement and a knack for property development. Their journey, marked by significant acquisitions and renovations in Bellaire and Elk Rapids, has included various projects like the Bellaire Post Office, which they once owned and later sold to finance the Bellaire Inn, which was maybe a bit of surprise at first. From the press release:
“Even we were surprised, but as we were looking down a very busy summer and had employees leave the area because of the lack of affordable housing, we had to do something.” Scott Newman-Bale, CEO for the brewery stated. “This model is fairly common in larger resort towns. We attempted to subsidize the rent of our employees by offering a limited number of vacation-rental rooms but in the end demand for staff housing left few openings.”
The brewery’s decision to buy the Bellaire Inn is a testament to its ongoing commitment to its employees and the wider community. By providing affordable and accessible housing, Short’s has not only retained its workforce but also enriched the lives of those who stay there. Drake Manwaring, an employee of Short’s Bellaire Pub, shared his experience for a long-term stay. From the release:
“I have lived at the Inn for over a year. There is a shared kitchen and game room — it’s been fun meeting new people and building friendships. The Inn is a great place to stay, I’d recommend it to anyone needing ‘affordable’ housing.”
Short’s Brewing further extended its community impact through the J1 program, hosting international students and offering them a cultural work experience in the United States. This program contributed significantly to the brewery’s ability to sustain high business levels during the peak season. The Bellaire Inn, with its 26 rooms, has become a vital resource for the brewery and the community. The inn’s operation stats, shared by Newman-Bale, reveal its success in providing affordable housing to employees, as well as hosting a diverse range of temporary residents, from nurses to construction workers.
Bellaire Inn Stats:
- Number of rooms : 26, including the full-time innkeeper.
- Number of rooms rented to employees, summer : 22
- Number of rooms rented to employees, current : 5
- Average cost per week : $115 per week rate for employees (below-market rate for non-employees)
- Average length of stay : 3-5 months
Short’s Brewing, while embracing its role as a landlord, has also faced typical property management challenges, such as maintenance issues. Yet, these experiences have only strengthened the brewery’s resolve and adaptability. Newman-Bale offers advice based on this journey.
“When times get tough, get creative. We weren’t planning on purchasing the inn, but it saved our summer in so many ways.”
Looking to the future, Short’s Brewing continues to explore new avenues for community development, including a large workforce housing project in Bellaire. For more information on the Bellaire Inn, visit StayBellaire. Now, enjoy more photos!