The Big Cat Story
Thanks for checking out our story! We are Aaron and Nikki Ackley, owners, chef, brewer, waitress, bookkeeper, dishwashers, floor moppers.....you name it, we do it!
On May 27th, 2006 we opened as Cedar Rustic Inn. It seems like such a long time ago, but the excitement of that time still remains. We had bought our house in Cedar in 2002 and Aaron's mom, Linda Ackley had bought the commercial property where Big Cat now sits, the same year. She had originally planned for the building to house her bronze foundry and studio. But then, word got out around town that Aaron was a chef and graduate of The Culinary Institute of America. Being that the building had previously been Eddie G's Roadhouse, the Cedar residents started making requests for another restaurant. And it had been a topic that we had discussed frequently. Aaron had been a chef around Leelanau County for a number of years, and Nikki had waited tables for a long time while finishing up her Bachelor's Degree in English Education.
So, we took the plunge! Our oldest daughter was 18 months at the time, and then our second daughter was born in 2008. In 2012, Aaron started homebrewing. We had been craft brew fans for quite some time and it was exciting to watch and visit the breweries popping up around Traverse City. And out of that 5 gallon bucket, Aaron was making some good beer! Then, he got to thinking how much better the beer would be if only he could have the proper equipment, and what a great addition the beer would be to our business! For two years, we scraped the money together and the commercial brewing equipment arrived in October 2014. We put our first beer on tap June 5, 2015, and Aaron has been a brewing maniac ever since.
The transition to Big Cat Brewing Company from Cedar Rustic Inn occurred March 1, 2016. It's a whole new adventure all over again! So, come on in and enjoy some great beer and food!
In 2002, Linda Ackley (Aaron's mom), purchased the building, intending to use it for her bronze foundry, studio, and gallery. These are the pictures she took in 2002. She did use the building for her foundry work until 2005, when the building was razed and work began for Cedar Rustic Inn. Eddie G's Roadhouse occupied the building from 1993-1998. Eddie G's was run by Ed Galindo and was known for it's breakfast, pizza, and "community table" where the men of the community would have their coffee talk.
Before that, there had been Cedar Valley restaurant, owned by Maurice "Moe" and Peggy Erickson from 1976-1980. Their establishment housed a gas station, mechanic shop, bakery, and antique shop. Moe was the mechanic and baker, while Peggy ran the antique shop, which she called "the junk box." The building was also once a pool hall, and housed a few other food establishments.