One of the largest wineries and microbrewery operations in south central Indiana will invest more than $1 million to undergo a significant expansion.
Simmons Winery and 450 North Brewing, 8111 East County Road 450N, will construct a new 8,192 square-foot building west of its current facilities to house a new restaurant, tasting and brewing facility, co-owner David Simmons said.
The 18-year-old business is expected to add at least 10 new workers to its current staff of 40 full- or part-time employees, he said.
Construction on the project, which will cost $1.3 million to $1.6 million, is expected to get underway in July, and could be completed as early as November, Simmons said.
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With a 4,000 square-foot dining area, the new restaurant will have a 150-person seating capacity. That is 50 more patrons than what the current 2,000-square-foot eatery can hold, Simmons said.
“Right now, if you walk in on a Friday or Saturday night, you almost always have to wait to get a table,” Simmons said. “We’re trying to make it more customer-friendly.”
Although the new restaurant will be noticeably less cramped, the rustic decor and ambiance will be similar to the current facility, he said.
While the building that now houses the restaurant will become a storage facility for the brewery and winery, there are no changes planned to the current 175-seat banquet room or wine-production facility, Simmons said.
The biggest motivation for the upcoming expansion is to grow the brewery operations, Simmons said.
“We just can’t make enough beer right now with our current system to keep up with demand,” he said.
Investing $320,000 to launch the 450 Brewing Co. in September, 2012, the Simmonses now sell wine, beers and hard ciders in more than 400 outlets throughout Indiana, as well as in the Nashville, Tennessee, area, Simmons said.
Although the brewery expansion has the potential to increase the number of outlets, he said the growth is required just to meet the current demand in Indiana, he said.
The brewery introduces an evolving line of limited-release specialty beers available on draft in its taproom and in cans, with two to four specialty beers released every two weeks, Simmons said.
“We are creating different things that we never would have made just a few years ago,” he said. “Completely new styles of beer designed to catch the latest hot trend.”
The new construction will occur on the western side of the 19.3 acre parcel, at the intersection of County Roads 450N and 425E, according to plans unanimously approved March 26 by the Bartholomew County Board of Zoning Appeals.
During discussions with the BZA, owners David and Brenda Simmons dropped their original proposal to add a second entrance to the facility off County Road 425E.
Since Simmons and his twin sons Daron and Aaron still tend to the neighboring farm that has been in their family since 1885, the co-owner said he still considers himself a farmer in everything he does.
“This operation is still agricultural-related, because we are still providing food,” Simmons said. “We’ve just taken it one step further by creating a product that goes directly to the consumer.”
He said Simmons Winery and 450 North Brewing Co. has taken the term farming diversification to an entirely different level.
1998: David and Brenda Simmons grow their first grapes: four acres of French-American hybrids. Their intention is to sell them to local wineries.
1999: Another 4.5 acres of grapes are planted. Consultations with members of the Indiana Wine Grape Council convince the couple to make their own wine.
2000: Simmons Winery and Farm Market opens. Space for a tasting room is rented at The Commons in Columbus.
2006: A banquet hall is constructed.
2012: Vineyards grow to a dozen acres. Sales exceed 45,000 bottles a year.
September 2012: With a $320,000 investment, the 450 Brewing Co. opens for the first time with a restaurant, craft brewery, retail store and tasting room. Eventually, an outdoor dining area was installed.
2016: David and Brenda Simmons are named Entrepreneurs of the Year during the annual Venture Awards presented by the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce.
Spring 2018: The Board of Zoning Appeals approve a plan to construct a new 8,192 square-foot building west of its current facilities to house a new restaurant, tasting and brewing facility. Construction is expected to begin in July. The new addition could open as early as November.