In a town known for sugar beets, Halie Hewgley figures there’s room for Beeter’s Brew Pub.
“They’ve been informed of the new name and what it will eventually be, and people think it’s a great name – especially considering the town and with our location right across the street from the sugar factory,” said Hewgley, 25, part of a company planning the new name – and renovations – at Sport-Ez Food and Spirits.
A company owned by Hewgley and her fiancé, Richard “Cupps” Houser, and her parents, Rich and Brenda Hewgley, aims to offer 10 brands of microbrews on tap inside the tavern, at 902 Pine St. (M-25) ,across the road from a Michigan Sugar Co. processing plant.
The company has applied for the transfer of a state license and permits from a company owned by John and Karen Clawson of Bad Axe.
“John and Karen were in business here for 43 years,” Rich Hewgley said. “The town really appreciated them. They did a lot for the community.”
John Clawson, 73, said he tried to support Sebewaing through the years.
“Back in the day they used to have the Little League auctions at my bar every December before Christmas, and I would sponsor softball teams and different activities,” Clawson said. “I’m no hero but I always tried to be part of the community.”
Rich and Brenda Hewgley own Iron Horse Bar & Grill in Akron, and plan interior and exterior renovations at the pub in Sebewaing. Their daughter, Shelby Hewgley, and her boyfriend, Jonathon Killian, will work at the Sebewaing location.
Currently the Sebewaing bar has four beers on tap – Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light and Alaskan Brewing Co.’s Amber Alt-Style Ale – but Rich Hewgley said it eventually will feature 10 taps, all delivering microbrews.
“We’ll focus on Michigan-made beers,” said Rich Hewgley, 58, of Fairgrove Township. “It could be from Tri-City Brewing Co., or beer made in Mount Pleasant, or from Bell’s Brewery, or Short’s Brewing Co.”
Beeter’s Brew Pub won’t meet the standard definition of “brewpub” as it won’t brew beer on the premises. But an expansion of the menu is planned, along with other changes.
“The interior and exterior will be completely redone,” Rich Hewgley said. “By mid-summer we should have everything inside and outside completely done over.”
Beeter’s Brew Pub will feature a new logo – a sugar beet lying on its side complete with its green leafy top – courtesy of Brenda Hewgley’s sister, graphic artist Lorie Tenerelli of Grand Blanc.
Halie Hewgley said she hopes to achieve a “new theme” inside the tavern.
“What we’re shooting for is a real industrial theme with a whole lot of galvanized steel, a lot of black pipe, because that’s what this area is and that’s what Sebewaing is: It’s a lot of factories and it’s a lot of farming,” she said.
The Hewgleys began managing the bar Jan. 1. The pub offers Friday fish fries featuring hand-battered perch with French fries and coleslaw, and jumbo shrimp with French fries.
“We’ll have pub-style food, with your Friday fish fries, and your homemade soups,” Rich Hewgley said. “Once we get the new fryers and get everything put in down the road, I want to be able to do all-you-can-eat wings and stuff like that, on special.”
“We plan on serving the turkey Reuben sandwiches they’ve had here,” added Halie Hewgley. “They also serve Koegel’s smoked sausages here – they call them ‘Roasties.’
“You put it in a bun and can eat it with ketchup, mustard, pickles and onion. It’s been a tradition here. People go crazy for ’em, so we’re planning on keep them on the menu.”
John Clawson said he and his wife probably will move closer to one of their three children now that they’ve left the bar business. He thanked Sebewaing-area residents for their support.
“The town has a lot of good people in it,” Clawson said. “That bar was easy to handle because the police department officers were always easy to work with, and they showed up when we called them, but we didn’t have many problems.”
In recent days, workers have installed a wall-mounted internet video jukebox at the bar, allowing patrons to play their favorite songs corresponding with videos playing on TV screens. A new audio system and five new screens have been added but the Hewgleys plan to have 11 TV screens eventually, showing music videos or sporting events or other programs.
They plan to install a new dartboard and set up a new pool table in addition to the existing one. They’ve added a flat-top grill in the kitchen.
“The grill is open until midnight every day, because the second shift gets out at 11 p.m. at the sugar factory,” said Halie Hewgley, a resident of Bay County’s Merritt Township and a 2012 Unionville-Sebewaing Area High School graduate.
“I haven’t been out this way in a while, so I’m really excited to be back out this way. You see many familiar faces coming back in that you haven’t seen in a while, and that’s good.”
Halie Hewgley hopes the bar renovations and changes can occur before the end of this year. Workers plan to add additional space for customers inside the tavern, which eventually will seat up to 110 people, according to Rich Hewgley.
The Hewgleys will name the bar “Beeter’s Brew Pub” once the transfer of a state license and permits takes place. The tavern is open from 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. each day.
“It’s a great location,” Rich Hewgley said. “Sebewaing warrants a full-time bar, seven days a week.”
John Clawson figures he’s passing the torch to the right people.
“They own their own bar in Akron so they have the experience, and their daughter (Halie) has the right personality to run the place,” Clawson said. “It helps to have experience, and it helps to have the personality. Those are the two main things.”
Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.