Living in the OC: Art, beer, fun on tap.

July 26, 2016
Chelsea Hayes, owner of The Artisan Taproom in New Era.

Chelsea Hayes, owner of The Artisan Taproom in New Era.

#OceanaCountyNews #NewEra #TheArtisanTaproom

‘Living in the OC’ is sponsored by Springstead Law Offices, with locations in Hart and Fremont, 231-873-4022 (Hart),

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

NEW ERA — Chelsea Hayes, a New Era native, opened The Artisan Taproom in the village this summer, and the unique business has received a warm welcome from the community.

artisan taproomOpening a business that serves beer and wine in a town that was “dry” years ago, did come with some apprehension, Hayes admits. But, she and her husband Nathan have received an overwhelmingly positive response.

“Everybody has been supportive,” Chelsea said. “There has been no disapproval. It’s been a very warm welcome. We knew we could take some flack, but we didn’t.”

Just down and across the main street, the quaint downtown has Morat’s Bakery Pub, which also serves beer and wine.

Years ago, alcohol was not sold in New Era due to village rules. Since she opened the taproom, Chelsea has heard many stories about “basement drinking” that occurred in New Era when the town was dry. She has had several customers walk into her business, and say excitedly, “There is a bar in New Era!?”

the artisan taproomBut The Artisan is much more than a bar. It it also an art gallery, featuring artwork by local artists. The business offers many fun events throughout each week, such as the popular Trivia Monday competition.

Located in the former Ruthie’s Music Cafe space, The Artisan is beautifully decorated with faux tin ceiling tiles; an eye-catching bar made from an old cedar utility pole covered with a smooth and shiny Epoxy finish; and lovely art pieces throughout the 1,400-square-foot space. Four layers of flooring were removed to utilize the gorgeous original hardwood floor in the 110-year-old building.

The original tin ceiling tiles adorn the front of the bar. Chelsea’s dad, Alan Fritcher, acquired the unique piece to create the dazzling bar.

artisan taproomSo far, the new business that opened Memorial Day weekend has hired one bartender, Chelsea said.

Chelsea, a 2003 Shelby High School graduate, is a social worker for the West Shore Educational Service District which includes Oceana County. Husband Nathan, originally from Boulder, Colorado, works as an occupational therapist at Lakeside Rehab and Family Fitness Center in Hart. They have two children Adalise, 6, and Anden, 4.

“I love Oceana County,” Chelsea said. After living in North Carolina for a few years, her appreciation grew for the beautiful scenery here. “We are surrounded by bodies of water,” she said. “We live in such a cool place, and we forget that sometimes.”

After moving back to the area, she realized there was a need in Oceana for a business like hers. “We artisan taproomneed somewhere in Oceana County where you can have drinks and gather. I thought, ‘Why not open it in my lovely little town?'”

The Artisan strives to offer nearly all locally-made and Michigan-made beer, artwork and entertainment. Taps include craft beers made by Fetch Brewing Company in Whitehall; Starving Artist in Ludington; Bell’s of Kalamazoo; Pigeon Hill in Muskegon; Founder’s in Grand Rapids; Dark Horse in Marshall; and New Holland in Holland. Coors Light is also on tap. There are also several bottled beverages, including Miller Light, Corona and Pabst Blue Ribbon beers.

An assortment of seven red wines and eight white wines are available, including some that are made in Michigan.

artisan tapoomThe taproom has snack food available, such as pita chips and hummus. Customers are welcome to bring their own food, or they can check out Ed Budde’s Big Guy’s Q food truck parked outside the taproom most Friday nights and Saturdays. Big Guy’s offers brisket, pulled pork and chicken, along with side dishes of macaroni and cheese, potato salad and baked beans, Chelsea said. Barbecued ribs are often available.

Check out the colorful artwork for sale by local artists Brian Kainulainen, Katie Gregory, Michelle Kunze and Beth Lewis.

Hours are Monday through Thursday 5-10 p.m.; Friday 5-11 p.m.; and Saturday noon to 11 p.m. The taproom is closed on Sunday.

For more info, visit them on Facebook or go to


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