Leasing Historic Root Beer Barrel For Business Use A Possibility, Say Douglas Officials
The local throwback to America’s highway landscape of post World War II, the Root Beer Barrel, is ready for an owner, a place and a leaser.
Douglas officials made the announcement during Monday’s Douglas City Council meeting.
“(The Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society) is interested in having the city be the official owner and having Friends of the Barrel act as property manager,” Douglas Community Development Director Ryan Kilpatrick told the council.
Friends of the Barrel is a team of Society volunteers that have taken the challenge of salvaging what has become, as described by the Society, “a beloved Douglas landmark.”
Kilpatrick went on to note that, “The ideal situation is to have a private property owner enter into a lease agreement (with the city).”
He said the Root Barrel has intrinsic value as a local icon, as a draw for summertime visitors and as a potentially exceptional advertisement means.
He said businesses have already expressed interest in the barrel. One of those is street food Odie Dogs owner Eric Chaitin, who set up shop in front of Beery Field this past summer season.
Chaitin said he would be interested in possibly using the historical structure at a location along Blue Star Highway.
That idea from Chaitin comes after earlier statements this past year when he said he would not renew his contract with the city nor would he ever open a brick-and-mortar business within the city’s downtown district because of strong opposition from some fellow business owners to his street food operation.
In 2010, the Society bought the barrel; volunteers spent many hours sanding, repairing, varnishing and moving the 125-foot barrel staves in a massive restoration project.
The finished staves are currently in a storage barn while the salvaging committee is presently working with the city and other interested parties to secure a permanent relocation.
Some of those places the committee mulled over were Beery Field and Wade’s Bayou, but that idea was soon scrapped for the more ideal Blue Star Highway Corridor.
Formerly standing north of West Center Street in Douglas, the 17-foot-high, 10-foot-diameter redwood barrel housed a small restaurant that served drinks, hot dogs and other foods from 1946 through the 1950s.
It was operated by the Gallas family adjacent to a miniature golf course and driving range, said Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society representatives.