SAUK CITY, Wis. - This week's opening of a new $7 million restaurant by the Madison-based Vintage Brewing Company on the Sauk City riverfront is spurring hope among local business leaders that it could help bring more growth to the area.
The restaurant has a 10,000-square-foot brewery space in the sub-level, capable of producing up to 9,000 barrels of beer annually. Upper levels have a kitchen, restaurant and bar, plus indoor and outdoor seating areas, a seasonal beer garden with riverfront views and a banquet and events space to accommodate groups of up to 250.
Co-owner and brewmaster Scott Manning summed up the company's reason for coming to Sauk City succinctly.
"It's vibrant," he said.
Manning said Vintage expects the twin cities of Sauk City and Prairie du Sac to continue to grow. He said its 20-30 minute drive to the Madison area, the Dells and Baraboo make it an easy drive for tourists and a place people working in the Madison area can call home.
"I'd like to see it grow, but not become a suburb necessarily. It's got its own unique personality and people are so proud of what they've got," Manning said. "This is the kind of place where we can really enhance the choices out there."
Indeed, more choices is why Sauk Prairie Area Chamber of Commerce head Tywana German thinks the restaurant and brewery will be a recipe for success for the area.
"From the moment that we started talking about a brewery, (we started) getting phone calls from other interested developers, many types of businesses, other retailers, restaurants, hotel venues," German said. "A facility such as this is a reason for people to come out and visit. Yes, the beer is good, but the views are better."
German said adding more amenities to the Sauk Prairie area is key, as it could attract young families with jobs in the Madison area to call Sauk City or Prairie du Sac their homes.
"We just did a focus group with millennials and one of the things that they said (when we asked) 'What would make you want to move and stay with your family here?'...(was) 'more restaurants'...and not just fast food, more upscale restaurants," she said.
Manning said he sees the Sauk Prairie area on a similar trajectory to once-outlying Dane County cities like Mount Horeb or Waunakee, which have transformed into bedroom communities for Madison-area professionals, while retaining much of their small-town charm.
"I look at some of the communities that surround Madison and they started as smallish, thought of as farmer towns," Manning said. "They're booming. I think Sauk (Prairie) might be next on the list."
Vintage's in-house brewery is expected to open in February, with a beer garden slated to open in the spring.
German said Vintage will be connected to the Great Sauk State Trail, a feature she also expects to be a boost to the area.
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