CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — A newly opened West Michigan business is taking advantage of a recently passed state law, allowing customers to serve themselves alcohol from dispensing machines.
“People just love it. It’s a fun thing for them to do. For us, businesswise, it eliminates an extra person we might have to have on at times,” said Jeff Miller, co-owner of Pour Michigan Wine Barn.
The idea for his business came at the beginning of 2021. After finding the “perfect property” and getting support from his family, Miller began the development phase.
“We hired a contractor to put up the main building, and then myself and my two sons did most of the work on the inside. All the trim work, all the wood, insulation, everything and moved forward from there.”
Miller decided to have wine dispensing machines installed but later learned that Michigan wasn’t a self-serve state.
“We went to the liquor commission, got approval to serve, but they at first didn’t want us to use the machines whatsoever even though other places had them. So, then they went back and said OK, we’ll allow you to use them but not self-serve.”
That was until state lawmakers approved a new law in mid-July, giving bars and restaurants the green light to let customers pour their own beer, wine, or mixed drinks from machines. The law states machines cannot dispense more than 32 ounces and not more than 16 ounces of beer, 12 ounces of wine, or 12 ounces of mixed drinks per serving.
Miller said it eases the workload on wait staff and reduces the time customers wait for drinks.
“That’s going to change how we do business drastically.”
Pour Michigan opened in mid-June, and about a month later, it started letting patrons use the wine wall themselves. People show their ID to get a card and load it with money. They can then insert the card into the machine and choose a taste, half glass or full glass of whichever wine they would like to try.
Miller said the wine is temperature-controlled, and a deoxidation process keeps it good for 90 days after opening.
Another unique aspect of his business; all the wine is made in Michigan.
“That’s all we will ever do is Michigan wine. Hence the name Pour Michigan,” Miller explained. “We’re a small business, and we want to support small business.”