As property manager, Jarrod Clark has really taken the Harvester Center under his wing.
After all, he discovered that his family, four generations ago, owned the property and sold it to Johnson Harvester, and how wealthy he has become thanks to the successful start-up of hatchery companies and well-known products, including farm equipment. Massey Harris and Melton shirts.
“It’s come full circle for me,” Clark said after Tuesday’s Planning and Development Committee meeting. “History bleeds.”
Soon enough, it could be brewing, as in the locally produced beers in a tasting room and adjacent small restaurant. She was representing Bill and Michelle Snyder, owners of Windy Brew in Strykersville, who want to open a similar site at 56 Harvester Center.
“It’s not going to be a huge facility,” he said. “You’d probably have 20 to 25 seats at the bar, and another 10 to 15 at tables, and they’re all drinking their beer and eating their pizza and pretzels.”
Originally proposed as a brewery, the owners applied for a special use permit. However, they quickly changed course after the committee informed Clark that a pub was not allowed in that area, but a restaurant was allowed and beer could be served there.
Windy Brew produces beer that will be available, along with other New York state beers and possibly wine, at the Batavia location, Clark said. Someone you won’t identify yet has also expressed interest in opening a commercial kitchen adjacent to the Snyder property.
“There would be room for multiple different users. So there will be some lockers and things in there. There may be some seats too. The idea is that we really lack a bakery in Batavia. So we are trying to find someone who is willing to operate a bakery there,” she said. “Mostly, we have a great Italian heritage here, where do you go to buy fresh Italian bread? So they ship it from Rochester and drop it off at Southside Deli. That would be a great benefit…and cookies, cakes, things like that.”
“I think it’s going to be great for our building,” he said. “We both (the anonymous tenant) want it to be successful. My goal is to bring like-minded people there.”
One of the Center’s best kept secrets is that it is home to 75 commercial tenants who manufacture and/or sell products and services. The Snyders were “ecstatic that they don’t need a special use permit,” he said, and are changing plans immediately. He and his other prospective tenant should reveal his plans in the coming weeks.
“For the last eight to 12 months, we’ve been looking for people in an operation or looking to do this,” he said. “There is a need for this. It is the community that drives what is needed; many people want to open a kitchen”.
Food trucks could use the communal kitchen for food preparation before loading up and going out to sell items, he said, and there are those kinds of mobile businesses that would benefit from such an operation.
After all, running a bakery is expensive: early morning work hours, utilities, inventory, finding good recipes and people with bakery experience, plus restroom maintenance. It would depend on the installation of a kitchen, he said.
“So when you have some networks and some people that you’re working with, and you have other people who can visit some of the other kitchens, you have an outlet to sell your product,” he said. “Not everything depends on you. You are not the only one who pays the gas bill, you are not the only one who pays the electricity bill. So the idea would be to get some kind of tenant that is a bakery and then possibly add three or four food trucks there. And there should be enough space where you could have a small takeout-only Mexican restaurant or an Italian restaurant.”
It’s true that the building, quite large with many compartments and businesses, and a bit difficult to navigate, can be a confusing concept for people, Clark said.
“So it’s not unlike this building to do new and different things that no one has ever seen or heard of before,” he said, referring to recent build applicants. “They really suit us. And we are willing to work with people who look outside the box.”
File photo of the Harvester Center on the east side of Batavia and photo by Jarrod Clark from an online site.