By Lisa Carolin
Ugly Dog, a handcrafted vodka and gin distillery currently located on North Territorial Road in Dexter Township, is moving to downtown Chelsea.
That was one of the announcements that received cheers from the crowd gathered for an open house at the Chelsea Depot Thursday, June 15.
“I love downtown Chelsea,” said David Salmon, who is now the CEO of Ugly Dog Distillery. “We hope to have a positive economic impact on the Chelsea community.”
The distillery will be moving to the former UAW Hall on South Main Street and will be expanding. Salmon says they hope to employ at least 20 people (They currently have six employees) within a year of relocating, and plan to offer tours of the facility as well as a tasting room.
“We rebranded the product on May 1, and business has been up 100 percent over last year,” said Salmon, who said the products are now being sold in other parts of the U.S. “It’s still the same product.”
He said that their goal is to attract more than 10,000 people to Chelsea annually.
“This was a vision we had all along,” said Dewey Winkle, who founded the distillery along with Jon Dyer. “Now we have a team we can do it with.”
Credit was given to former Chelsea Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bob Pierce for making the move happen, and current Chamber Executive Director Monica Monsma was also thanked.
“I think Ugly Dog will be an integral part of our economic life,” Monsma said. “You have the full support of the chamber behind you.”
Mayor Jason Lindauer was also on hand.
“No one is more excited about this project than I am,” said Lindauer. “Welcome to Chelsea.”
Also at the event was the inspiration for the distillery’s name, Ruger, the handsome 13-year-old German Wirehaired Pointer, who somehow earned the nickname “Ugly Dog.”
The goal is to move the distillery to downtown Chelsea in the first quarter of 2018.