FireKeepers Casino broke ground today on a new food resource for the Battle Creek community, that will bring a new purpose to a more than century old building on the city’s west side.

The casino has bought the old Fire Station #4 on Kendall Street, and will convert it into a restaurant, with community meeting rooms, and a Food Bank food pantry.  And, the adjacent land, just south of the railroad tracks, will have greenhouses built to grow food for free salad bars at downtown schools.

FireKeepers spokesman Jim Wise says the restaurant could be open in time to take the family to dinner over the holidays later this year, and he says 80% of the profits will be donated to local charities.  Wise says the other 20% of profits will be used to maintain the building.  He says there will be a process by which local non-profit groups may apply for funding.

The concept for the building was the vision of Chef Mike McFarlen, Vice President of Food and Beverage at the Casino.   McFarlen is also a board member of the Food Bank of South Central Michigan. He says the restaurant, which will be formally named soon, will feature an array of sandwiches, thin crust pizza and desserts, and an artisan bakery with a wade array of baked goods.

Photo by Tim Collins/TSM

The building, in amazing shape, was saved from the wrecking ball 26 years ago by local historian Warren Lun.  Lun lived upstairs and kept the Fire Station in its original condition, and kept it in good condition.

Wise says construction work on the project will begin immediately.