Food & Drink

'Incredibly Difficult Decision:' Ferndale's Axle Brewing Co. Calling It Quits at End of Month

June 10, 2019, 7:48 AM

The restaurant and bar business is a tough one. The folks who run the Axle Brewing Co. in Ferndale know that as well as anyone. 

After operating a cool gastropub for two years at 567 Livernois in Ferndale, just north of 8 Mile Road, the joint is shutting June 30 -- unless it finds a buyer. It said it found it a steep climb to profitability.

General manager Russell Kirchner "has put this place on his back and led by example," the owners post Sunday with this.
(Photo: Facebook)

In a Facebook post first reported by Metro Times, the brewing company says:

In June of 2017, we opened the doors of our new place to a line of beer drinkers stretching several down the street to spontaneous “fanfare” played on by a dude in line who happened to have his horn in his car after leaving a gig! It was an incredible moment after more than 2 years of trying to create our brand from the remnants of a brewery we bought in 2015 and launched as a production-only brewery without a taproom. This past weekend we celebrated our second anniversary & Ferndale Pride with so many of you and got to experience that moment all over again.

There is no easy way to share this news so we will keep it simple: Axle’s Livernois Tap will pour its final beers on Sunday June 30th 2019 after a month long celebration.

We are so proud of what we built over the past four years, especially the last two in Ferndale. The embrace from our community has been inspiring and the support from the City of Ferndale from the moment we purchased the building, has been steady & strong. We struggled early on to gain momentum in distribution, so we focused our energy and resources on creating a place that would reflect our values, aspirations and define our brand. We built a family friendly, inclusive gathering place where creative food, great beer and hospitality lived in harmony.

We definitely took “The Long Cut” which inspired our flagship IPA’s name. We had a steep climb from where we began and we do not see a clear path to profitability with our current cost structure and very lean margins on the distribution side of our business in the near term. We are grateful for the support from the city of Ferndale, our neighbors and the resilience of our staff during the 6 months of road construction we endured last summer and fall, but it definitely took a toll on our revenue and arrested the substantial momentum we had rolling into our first birthday last June.

We’ve had a few conversations with companies we respect about partnering or acquiring us, but it’s important for us to entertain all possible options & be transparent about our intentions in order to work thru the process openly. We want our loyal guests and partners to have the opportunity to say goodbye, our team to have a graceful transition, and for us to honor commitments we’ve made, so we will be spending the next month celebrating as we determine what’s next. Our goal is to secure a strategic partner or buyer that shares our values and interest in this vibrant community with the infrastructure and scale to succeed in the amazing space at 567 Livernois that you’ve all helped us create.

We’ve hosted weddings, wakes, proposals, baby showers, charity fundraisers, milestone birthday parties, and more gatherings than we could possibly list. We were named one of the Freep’s Top 10 Best New Restaurants in 2017 & their Top 5 Beers of 2018 with Wolf Tone, along with a lot of other really cool accolades from people we respect. We helped build a new studio for Ferndale Radio with our friends from the Rust Belt, Long White Beard, PTD & Live Edge Detroit by harnessing the power of satire with our very own VERY STABLE GENIUS! And supported organizations we admire like Detroit City Football Club, Affirmations, Rock CF, Ferndale Pride, Ferncare, Focus Hope, Rising Stars, Brilliant Detroit, WDET and many many more. We’ve pushed conversations about inclusion and diversity in our industry and tried to create a place where casual beer drinkers & craft beer nuts could coexist. We did the things we felt were the right thing to do with a smile and an open heart, and would do them all again.

This has been an incredibly difficult decision. We are so proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished together. We are truly grateful to everyone who cheered us on and look forward to thanking everyone over a beer in the next couple of weeks.

So… prior to our “last call for now” at the end of the month, we will release the highly anticipated 2019 Wolf Tone Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout in both bottles, draft & 4 packs of cans! We will host another wedding and many surprises and events in the coming weeks. We will work with our distributers to insure our friends in the bar & restaurant community can continue to serve Axle products during the transition.

Our team is committed to making this month an amazing time for our guests at Livernois Tap & we are relying on the people who have supported us to help us say goodbye to something special we’ve done together. I can’t say enough about our leadership team who continue to amaze me with their poise & grace. So when you see Russell, The Jackal, Sam, Adam, Rob, Jacob, Lawrence, Jill, & Eric be sure to thank them, because this long goodbye is only possible because of their commitment.

We believe that if you work hard & are kind, amazing things will happen. And they have & will continue to, and we will continue to bust our butts and be kind to each other and our guests, and yup, we will shed a few tears, ok, a lot of tears, but a whole lot of laughs, love & stories as we roll toward June 30th.

Dan & the Axle Family

(Photo: Facebook, Axle Brewing Co.)

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