2018-02-15 / Front Page

Maple City, home to curling?

By Jay Bushen
Sports Editor

FUTURE OWNERS of Kerby’s Bar and Grill in Maple City are pictured from left: Jen Reutter, Joey Reutter, David Gersenson and Theresa Gersenson. The business will be attached to a year-round curling facility owned by the Gersensons in October. FUTURE OWNERS of Kerby’s Bar and Grill in Maple City are pictured from left: Jen Reutter, Joey Reutter, David Gersenson and Theresa Gersenson. The business will be attached to a year-round curling facility owned by the Gersensons in October. The curious sport of curling has once again captured the attention of Winter Olympics fans across the country.

That’s no surprise to David Gersenson of Cedar, who hopes to bring curling to Leelanau County.

Gersenson, who brought his family to the peninsula in 2012, plans to start the “first for-profit curling club in America” this fall after building a year-round curling facility in Maple City.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Gersenson said, “but this has become a passion of mine. I’ve been curling for a little more than a year and I’m taking a good part of my savings to do this — banks aren’t exactly chomping at the bit to lend on a project for a curling facility.”

But it’s about more than money for Gersenson and his wife, Theresa Gersenson, who already own three county businesses under the M22 Inn umbrella.

The facility is part of a plan that includes taking over a fifth business, a restaurant currently known as Kerby’s Bar and Grill on Burdickville Road. The Gersensons and partners Joey and Jen Reutter plan to close on Kerby’s in July and, once a liquor license is obtained, have both businesses up and running in October. The restaurant will be attached to the curling facility and likely feature “good, brewpub food” sourced largely by local farmers.

“We plan on revamping the restaurant, making it very family friendly and creating a destination spot for everyone,” Joey Reutter said. “We hope to use the spirit of curling to bring the community together.”

The Reutters less than a year ago sold the proverbial farm to move to Leelanau County from San Diego.

They wed in 2003 in Suttons Bay and currently manage The Sylvan Inn in Glen Arbor, an M22 Inn property.

“We sold the house, sold the business, sold cars and pushed all of our chips into Leelanau,” Joey Reutter said. “We’ve been looking for a business opportunity, something that we can hang our hat on. The more I talk to people, the more people say ‘summer is great, but it gets really quiet in the wintertime.’ I thought, well, surely there’s got to be something to do. There seemed to be not a lot of options — snowshoeing and cross-country skiing and snowmobiling — but there doesn’t seem to be a place the community can gather, get to know each other and bond. ... Then I met David.”

The hope is to make the businesses a tourist destination in Maple City, which also relies on nearby Lime Lake and Myles Kimmerly Park to attract visitors.

Additionally, David Gersenson said the curling facility will feature a free, outdoor skating rink for non-curling ice seekers in the winter and that the partners have discussed other developments.

For now, however, they are focused on curling and food.

“There’s only a handful of year-round curling facilities in the country,” he said. “The town’s excited. Even talking with some of the local authorities, they’re all really excited about it.”

Fans of the Winter Olympics are likely familiar with the sport, which challenges players to slide granite stones across a sheet of ice toward a target area segmented into four circles.

The sport has certainly taken hold in Traverse City, where the self-proclaimed

“Hottest Curling Club in the U.S.” was founded in 2014.

That said, the Traverse City Curling Club will have some competition moving forward in the Leelanau Curling Club, which will have fewer curlers at its disposal but a legitimate leg up with its own facility. The Traverse City club competes at Centre Ice Arena.

“We already have names of about 25 people,” said David Gersenson, who’s already started a “Leelanau Curling Club” Facebook page.

The new facility will feature two or three sheets of ice and have 6,000 to 9,000 square feet. Tiered memberships will help pay summer utility bills.

David Gersenson also mentioned a junior curling program and potential partnerships with county schools.

A la pickleball, he said, curling can be a sport for students, seniors and just about anyone. It’s the fastest-growing winter sport in America, he said.

“As luck would have it, I loved it,” Joey Reutter said. “I loved the competitiveness, the skill and most importantly the camaraderie.”

The man investing in the sport, David Gersenson, echoed a similar sentiment. He too hopes to see curling catch on — although he won’t necessarily be crestfallen if it doesn’t.

“This is more of a community investment,” he said. “I don’t envision making money. I hope to break even.”

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