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Taproot Cider House Continues Serving Traverse City After an Abrupt Closing

Taproot Cider House faced an abrupt closing due to an oven fire, but that did not stop their sense of resilience
Taproot Cider House Continues Serving Traverse City After an Abrupt Closing
Photo Courtesy: Taproot

  Taproot Cider House, a small restaurant located in Downtown Traverse City, recently reopened after a catastrophic pizza oven fire back in September. The fire was contained in the oven, but it caused a thick cloud of smoke to seep throughout the restaurant, and there was a layer of water three inches thick that covered the entire floor by the time the fire department arrived to take precautionary measures. As a result, the owners had to shut down business so that the building could undergo the process of remodeling, in order to bring Taproot back to its original dining state. In response to the fire, the owners, Jen Viren, and her husband wanted to make sure that all of their employees were safe and taken care of during the shutdown.

One of the ‘taproots’ that hangs over the bar as one of the main eye attractions in the restaurant. Photo Courtesy: Taproot

  “[The fire and abrupt closing] affected our employees, customers and business assets. I immediately created awareness, contacted insurance and took care of my team,” Viren, said.

  Not only for those who work at Taproot but also in the Traverse City area, this unexpected event came as a shock, sending ripples of emotion into the community, including relatives of Viren’s at West.

  “Jen is my sister-in-law [and] she is married to my younger brother Andy. I thought about the impact this would have on the growth of their business. Jen is one of the most caring people I know, and she would not reopen until everything was perfect and safe for not only her customers but for all of her staff as well. My son, Parker, has worked there before, and I have been told by many others that Taproot is one of the best places to work and that Jen takes very good care of her employees,” Courtney Francisco, Testing Center Advisor at West, said.

Taproot employees show off freshly cooked dishes. Photo Courtesy: Taproot

  Known for their fresh, locally sourced dishes, Taproot was not able to serve customers for most of the fall season, but that did not stop the owners from staying occupied.

  “My husband and I are currently in the process of establishing Taproot Farmstead. We will complete our five-acre fruit planting [in] the spring of 2024 and work with our county, township and state on a hard cider production facility. Our farm will host a bakery and market along with a tasting room and sell hard cider to its sister business, Taproot Cider House,” Viren said.

Taproot’s avocado salad and a selection of beverages. Photo Courtesy: Taproot

  Outside of the work happening behind the scenes to grow their business, Viren and her husband also made sure to keep their staff occupied with opportunities while the restaurant was closed, all contributing to the team effort of reopening in November.

  “My focus was on keeping the team engaged by providing educational tours of our partnering establishments and hosting team meetings. We [also] created our fall menu [and] restructured our employee guidelines,” Viren said.

  Normally, during the fall season, Taproot brings in a steady flow of locals and tourists looking to eat somewhere after gazing at the changing colors of the trees, but not this year. Locals mentioned that they missed the welcoming atmosphere inside Taproot during this time.

Fresh shrimp being plated after cooking. Photo Courtesy: Taproot

  “[The atmosphere is] natureful, exotic [and] fun. [It] seems like something out of a Tarzan movie. It’s a nice spot. It’s got a lot of green plants,” senior and former employee, Owen Johnson, said.

  Aside from the environment, other locals have stated that the food is what they missed the most about Taproot during its closing.

  “I love what Taproot has done for Traverse City. It touches on so many different tastes that there is literally something for everyone – Please do not get me started on the grilled cheese! I love the relationships [Taproot] has built with [their] food providers, how everything is fresh and [that] they put flavors together that you would not normally think to put together,” Francisco said.

Freshly made tacos. Photo Courtesy: Taproot

  Although the abruptness of the closing created a dramatically devastating effect, the owners are hoping to be able to continue catering their philosophy

to the Traverse City community, with the reopening and remodeling of their business for years to come.

One of the many burger options to order from Taproot. Photo Courtesy: Taproot

  “Taproot’s mission and core values are focused on the health of our community, supporting local businesses, sustainable agriculture and buying organic, GMO-free, happy and free-range livestock. [Also] creating a culture of growth, knowledge, [a] team working environment and a dedication to providing an experience for our guests, [and] maintaining consistent quality and presentation with the highest standards,” Viren said.

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About the Contributor
Kendall Kaberle, Co-Editor in Chief
Kendall Kaberle is a senior in her second year of newspaper. This year she decided to take on a larger leadership role as co-editor-in-chief as she really enjoys writing and editing stories. She chose to take this class as a backup option last year due to the fact that West doesn't have a French teacher anymore, but now she aspires to be a journalist. Outside of school, Kendall enjoys spending time with her family, and friends, weightlifting, and loves swimming in Lake MI. Kendall aspires to travel the world and write about her experiences while traveling.

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