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A fruitful business plan

Phillips Orchards & Cider Mill expands with Lansing bar and market

Phillips Orchards & Cider Mill, a St. Johnsbased business shown here, is expanding to Frandor. Its bar and market at 3000 Vine St. is slated to have a two-step opening in October and November.
Phillips Orchards & Cider Mill, a St. Johnsbased business shown here, is expanding to Frandor. Its bar and market at 3000 Vine St. is slated to have a two-step opening in October and November.
Sarah Spohn
Posted

With the fall season upon us, Lansing hard apple cider enthusiasts are in for a treat. Phillips Orchards & Cider Mill in St. Johns is expanding and opening a cider bar and market in Frandor, slated for a two-step opening in October and November.  

Brian Phillips, the mill’s co-president, said the orchard has been in his family since 1852. This expansion is just another branch of their always budding operation. 

“The farm is currently 170 acres, and we grow 34 kinds of apples, 15 kinds of peaches, a couple of kinds of plums and pears,” Phillips said. “We have a year-round retail store (Gatehouse Market) out here on US-127 in Saint Johns, and we open a retail store (Orchard Market) at the orchard itself during harvest time for you-pick.” 

Although the business has been around for 170 years, hard cider wasn’t on the menu until 2019. Phillips hopes more customers taste their hard cider varieties, especially since many of their customers typically make the trek from Lansing. Now, they don’t necessarily have to make that drive. Phillips Cider Bar & Market will occupy an 1800-square-foot space at 3000 Vine St., Lansing.   

“Two-thirds of the space will be a cider bar where people can come in, have a glass of cider, have a little something to eat, fill a growler or howler to take home, or buy bottles for takeout,” Phillips said. “We’re also going to have a small area, the market side, where you’ll be able to buy our fresh cider and some of our baked goods. It’s a scaled-down selection of what we sell at our main store.” 

Phillips believes the central location, paired with the development along the Michigan Ave. corridor, makes for a fruitful business plan. The space, formerly a pet grooming business, hasn’t required many renovations besides plumbing and adding another bathroom. Phillips said they’re just waiting on  “standard building approvals,” and the October open date is still on track. 

“We are waiting for the Building Department to sign off on the plans so permits can be pulled to complete the work we need,” he said. 

The interior aims for a modern, polished, yet rustic feel. Customers will be able to sample 20 kinds of bottled hard ciders, 12 on tap, plus various hard cider cocktails. Phillips said their cider differs from their competitors.  

“We specialize in dry hard cider, as opposed to the sweeter forms some people like to make. This is true artisanal, small-batch cider,” he said. “We grow all the apples. We prepare the juice right here. We ferment. It’s all in our control. Some of our other friends in the neighborhood couldn’t say that. Some of their cider is made by outside contractors.” 

Phillips Cider Bar & Market is slated to have a two-step opening, with the market opening in October and the bar following in November. Phillips hopes this venture will introduce the company to new, thirsty locals.  

“We know more than a couple of people in the area who still think we’re the best-kept secret in the Lansing area because there are still a lot of people who don’t know we exist.”  

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