The co-owners of a Grape Escapes wine tours are crushing another kind of fruit and "taking advantage of the cider boom:" Mike Lim and Susan Downey Lim announced last summer they'd be teaming up with Brian Kelly to open Chain-Yard Urban Cidery at 2606 Agricola Street (the former FRED. location). And now they're just about ready to pour it up.
"Susan and I have basically been looking to get into the production side since we started Grape Escapes and Taste Halifax. It's always been a goal of ours," says Lim. "We're big cider fans."
The team had its eyes on the Agricola building when they found out it was for sale. The one-time salon-cafe hybrid was ideal: One side could be for production, while the other could be the tap room.
"When we looked into it, we weren't able to secure the financing for both the startup and the purchase of the building," says Lim. They turned to Pete Luckett for help, inviting him to collaborate. Luckett ended up buying the building and is now the landlord for the business.
"He's been a good mentor and we've gone to him with quite a few questions during the startup."
It's "an eye-opening experience" for the rest of the team to see the cider maker Jay Hildybrant go through the process. They're learning about "what apples go with what blends, and the amount of apples that we have to chose from in Nova Scotia," says Lim.
Right now, the first batch of cider is finishing up, with another run to immediately follow. The tap room is getting its final touches, and the cidery is expected to open in mid- to late April.