Fergus Falls, Minn. is showing everyone how community building works. A group of like-minded entrepreneurial families are transforming the town from a cluster of chain restaurants and big box stores to a group of family-owned businesses.
One of the latest projects brought together the families Ben Schierer, Jake Krohn, and Matt Ecker. They combined skills and resources to revamp an old Dominos Pizza into Fergus Falls’ only craft brewery and non-chain pizza restaurant, Union Pizza and Brewing.
Krohn, a community organizer, introduced his friend Ben Schierer to his homebrewing partner Matt Ecker two years ago at a pizza and beer party in Krohn’s front yard. There, Schierer described to Ecker and Krohn his idea for a pizza food truck. Krohn pushed Schierer to establish something with permanent roots in the community.
Schierer reworked the concept into a brick and mortar restaurant. Ecker and Krohn, who homebrewed together for several years, convinced Schierer to include a brewery in the plans. They noticed plenty of people in Fergus Falls with an appreciation of craft beer and few places to satisfy their thirst.
Union Pizza and Brewing will initially offer easy-drinking ales and lagers, and then roll out more assertive styles for the hopheads. Patrons will be able to pair these beers with a full menu of woodfire pizzas including chicken, Thai, veggie, bacon, and build your own options, all served on a handmade sourdough crust.
The name Union Pizza & Brewing comes from Schierer’s love of Civil War history and the numerous city streets in Fergus Falls named for Civil War figures. Their Jeff Davis Porter and Cincinnati Pale Ale are cleverly named after the horses of Union General Ulysses S. Grant.
Although their name recalls the past, Union Pizza & Brewing is excited about the future. They opened the doors in March, serving their first pizzas to rave reviews from customers, who will surely be returning their first taste of Union’s brews handcrafted on the brewpub’s 3-barrel brewhouse.
The Union Pizza & Brewing team hopes to be a gathering place for “[Fergus Falls residents] looking for something other than another big chain restaurant,” says Ecker. And in a town whose kindergarten classes are full again, there’s a whole new generation of families for Union Pizza & Brewing to serve.
Brewers: Matt Ecker (Head Brewer), Jake Krohn (Assistant Brewer)
Beers: Jeff Davis Porter, Cincinnati Pale Ale, and rotating selection
Visit: 114 S Union Ave., Fergus Falls, Minn.
Hours: Tue–Thu 4–10pm, Fri–Sat 4–11pm, Sun 4–10pm