As property manager, Jarrod Clark has really taken the Harvester Center under his wing.
After all, he discovered that his family four generations ago once owned and sold the property to Johnson Harvester, and how rich it has been with successful incubator business start-ups and well-known products, including Massey Harris farm equipment and Melton shirts.
“It’s kind of gone full circle for me,” Clark said after Tuesday’s Planning & Development Committee meeting. “It bleeds history.”
Fairly soon, it might just be brewing beer — as in locally produced brews in a tasting room and an adjacent small restaurant. He 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. “It probably would seat 20 to 25 at the bar, and another 10 to 15 at tables, and everybody is drinking their beer and eating their pizza and pretzels.”
Originally proposed as a brew pub, the owners had applied for a special use permit. However, they quickly changed course after the committee informed Clark that a pub wasn’t allowed in that zone, but that a restaurant was allowable, and beer could be served there.
Windy Brew produces beer that will be available, along with other New York State brews and possibly wine, at the Batavia location, Clark said. Someone who he won’t identify just yet has also expressed interest in opening a commercial kitchen adjacent to the Snyder’s property.
“There would be room for multiple different users. So there’ll be some lockers and stuff in there. There might be some seating as well. The idea is, we’re really lacking a bakery in Batavia. So we’re trying to find somebody that would be willing to operate a bakery out of there,” he said. “Primarily, we have a big Italian heritage here, where are you going to buy fresh Italian bread? So you’re getting it shipped in from Rochester and dropped off at Southside Deli. So that would be a huge benefit … and cookies, pastries, things like that.”
“I think it’s going to be great for our building,” he said. “We both (the anonymous tenant) want to see it succeed. My goal is to get like-minded people there.”
One of the Center’s best-kept secrets is that it houses 75 business tenants that manufacture and/or sell products and services. The Snyders were “ecstatic that they don’t need a special use permit,” he said, and are shifting plans immediately. He and his other future tenant should be disclosing their plans in the next few 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’s the community driving what’s needed; many people are wanting to open a kitchen.”
Food trucks would be able to use the communal kitchen for food prep before loading up and going on the road to sell items, he said, and there are those types of mobile businesses that would benefit from such as operation.
After all, it’s costly to operate a bakery — early morning work hours, utilities, inventory, finding good recipes and people experienced in baking, plus maintenance of bathrooms. It would hinge on a kitchen set-up, he said.
“So when you have some networking and some people that you’re working with, and you have other people coming in that may be visiting some of the other kitchens, you have an outlet of selling your product,” he said. “It’s not all on you. You’re not the only one paying the gas bill, you’re not the only one paying the electric bill. So the idea would be to get some sort of a house tenant that’s a bakery and then possibly add three or four food trucks in there. And there should be enough room where there could be maybe a small Mexican takeout only or an Italian restaurant.”
Admittedly, the building — quite large with many compartments and business ventures, and a bit difficult to navigate — can be a confusing concept for folks, Clark said.
“So it’s not unlike this building to do new and different stuff that nobody’s seen or heard of before,” he said, referring to the latest building applicants. “They kind of really fit us well. And we’re willing to work with people that kind of look outside of the box.”
File Photo of Harvester Center on the east side of Batavia, and photo of Jarrod Clark from an online site.