Just three hours after Sugar Spring Ranch owners Greg and Melinda Meyer closed on a second special events location, work began.
It’s fair to say the new 8,000-square-foot location, formerly the site of Waterloo’s Tin Rooster restaurant off Route 3, is off to a great start.
Construction is moving swiftly, as the site needed little tweaks to bring it up to Sugar Spring standards, and many couples are already touring the venue.
Greg said much of this smooth sailing is attributable to the City of Waterloo.
“The entire City of Waterloo has been fantastic. They made it very clear that they want the business here,” Greg said, having previously shared, “As we were writing the contract, they brought out their building inspector to look at everything before we even made the deal to make sure we weren’t going to have any problems and that we could open on time.”
On Oct. 2, Sugar Spring South, which can comfortably host 250 as of now, will host its first wedding reception, with the ceremony taking place a short distance away at the ranch.
Waterloo will officially see the first venue of this scope come to life.
“The neat thing is there are no other venues in Waterloo,” Greg said. “There are a couple of places that have rooms, but there’s not really a dedicated venue.”
While the Meyers are currently bouncing around new ideas for the space – such as renting out the commercial kitchen during the week and hosting special chef showcase nights – one thing is for certain: Sugar Spring South will showcase many of the same features Sugar Spring Ranch fans know and love.
“One thing I know we want to do that sets us apart from everybody else is our sound and light system,” Greg said. “At the ranch, we actually have a nightclub-quality sound system and a light system that would rival any concert. So, during the day it was very elegant with the chandeliers and at night it could really turn into a night club. We’ll do the same thing at (Sugar Spring South) as well.”
Much of the work at the new space involves breaking down barriers that separated the space, helping emulate the wide-open feel of Sugar Spring Ranch. Of course, the barnesque look of Sugar Spring South also pays homage to the ranch.
On top of its large kitchen, Sugar Spring South will also feature a full-service bar and all the modern amenities of the ranch.
“It’s all, to us, about the customer experience,” Greg said. “We don’t want to be average, we want to be the best we can be.”
Considering the Meyers have been focusing on reconstruction of Sugar Spring Ranch’s barn venue after a devastating late May fire destroyed the new venue at 1385 Centerville Road in Columbia, the announcement of a second location may come as a surprise to some. However, the couple has had their eyes on the Waterloo building for quite awhile.
“We’ve eaten at the old Tin Rooster and I’ve always admired the building and commented that it’s really similar to what we did at Sugar Spring Ranch where we built this building and made it rustic, but it had all the modern conveniences. So, it’s basically a brand new building, it’s all commercial, but it has that barn look.”
The fire and subsequent Monroe County Zoning Board of Appeals’s decision to limit the ranch’s pavilion use to ceremonies only – with restrictions on outdoor music – gave the Meyers the final push they needed to make a move on the new location.
“We were really trying to do it and then the fire hit and our lives just stopped and we didn’t think there was any way. Our original plan was we were going to have a tent out at our property … and a lot of (the couples) said ‘We will get married at a tent on your property, and of course, that was what the last zoning thing was where they denied that and (said) we could only have ceremonies. After that we were kind of determined … to step up and make it happen.”
The Meyers hope to soon have Sugar Spring Ranch back to its former glory. At the beginning of the rebuilding process, the Meyers were under the impression they did not need to file another building permit, but were later notified they did. This hiccup further delayed construction.
As of press time, Greg said he is waiting to hear back from the county on the plans.