People downtown and throughout Saline are geeked about Salt Springs Brewery’s grand opening July 31.
It’s a beautiful building and ownership is committed to a top-shelf experience, with locally-made craft beers and a farm-to-table food. If you’ve talked to Ed Brosius or Ron Schofield or executive chef Justin Dalenberg for more than a minute – you’ve felt their enthusiasm for their grand project.
I’ve heard some grumblings about “another restaurant” and the pie being only so big in downtown Saline. But everything I’ve ever read about modern small-town downtowns suggests that operations like Salt Springs Brewery can make that pie larger. f you talk to Wally at Mac’s, he’s already getting a lot of out-of-town customers. I suspect Salt Springs Brewery will do the same, bringing more diners and customers downtown, and exposing existing restaurants and businesses to new people.
I think back to my days working in Milford – a downtown with lots of local foot traffic visiting the deli, pizza restaurant and bakery in the day and more out-of-towners visiting high profile restaurants like Angelosante’s or Brian Polcyn’s Five Lakes Grill in the evenings. These well-known restaurants turned downtown Milford into a destination for the surrounding area. Both restaurants are long gone, but they played an important role in making downtown Milford one of Michigan’s best downtowns.
In Miflord, the Downtown Develop Authority played up the idea of downtown as a destination. Way back in 2001 the DDA chose “Meet Me in Milford” as a slogan. It’s a great slogan, because it’s call to action. It immediately tells you that downtown Milford is a great place to meet friends, families or business associates. Even today, www.MeetMeInMilford.com is the DDA’s website. The website features a shopping and dining guide, a calendar and informative sections for visitors and investors.
That brings me Saline’s recent branding effort, “Lightly Salted.” The marketing campaign is part of a joint community marketing effort coordinated by the Saline Area Chamber of Commerce, with the support of Main Street, the school district and the city.
“Lightly Salted” comes with a beautiful logo. But what do the words tell you? Yes, Saline was named for the salt springs that brought animals, native Americans and French fur traders to the area hundreds of years ago. But is salt bringing anyone to town today? What does “Lightly Salted” tell you about Saline, if you’re not from here? Anything that would convince you to visit?
Thursday, the marketing firm behind the “Lightly Salted” campaign emailed press releases for the Salt Springs Brewery Grand Opening and the launching of VisitSaline.com, a new website bearing the “lightly salted.” The website and logo were funded by a community tourism grant through the Ypsilanti Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
What do they have to do with Salt Springs Brewery? Nothing. Yet they were delivered in the same email.
At this point, it’s hard not to believe that the chamber, with the support of local government, have at some level funded a marketing campaign for a new business coming to town. Was the name “lightly salted” chose because of Salt Spring Brewery? Was the release of the website rolled out the same time as the grand opening the microbrewery? The fact they were sent in the same email suggests there’s a planned synergy here.
And that seems a little too inside baseball, even for Saline.
Here’s the thing. Salt Springs Brewery isn’t going to sink or swim based on a new calendar website or a community marketing campaign. Its success will be determined by the owners’ ability to execute their plan.
So while I’m a little salty about Saline’s new slogan, I’m betting Salt Springs Brewery has a long and prosperous run in downtown Saline.