From Farm
to Restaurant
A family’s industrious spirit cooks up
farm-fresh restaurant fare
By Lisa Mackinder
Photos by: Brian Powers
Arriving at his family’s third-generation farm, Andrew Schultz wears a t-shirt emblazoned with an eye-catching, candy-red apple while sipping from a glass of cider.
It’s fitting that the general manager of Texas Corners Brewing Company (TCBC) wears and drinks this fruit; it’s the logo of his family’s thriving farm-to-table restaurant and brewery, which they opened three years ago in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Riding Tractor
Dan Schultz drives a tractor in the
Schultz Fruitridge Farms orchard
Schultz Farms
Everybody is a key part.
–Billy Schultz
Andrew slides into a seat at the picnic table across from his father, Bill Schultz, who also owns the 400-acre Schultz Fruitridge Farms in nearby Mattawan with his wife, Denise. Andrew’s brother, Dan, who works as the operations manager at the farm, drives up on a tractor, hops off, and sits next to Andrew at the table.

Bill smiles and recounts stories of Dan playing contentedly with toy tractors and trucks for hours as a child. “That boy’s going to be a tractor driver,” he recalls saying. “And it turned out to be that way exactly.”

Which is important. Each Schultz possesses certain strengths that make the farm and restaurant operation a success. Bill, who is in a managerial role, says his oldest son Billy, the farm’s vice president—off delivering produce at the moment—does a bit of everything, which “stretches Billy thin.” But Billy enjoys staying busy.

Andrew attended Michigan State University, receiving a degree in agri-business management, and worked as a sourcing specialist at Nestle in Dallas. He returned to oversee the 21-table TCBC.

“It takes a team to make this happen. And Andrew is a key part of that,” Billy says when he arrives back at the farm. “Everybody is a key part.”

/ SERVING THE FARM’S BEST EVERY DAY /
Another component for success: communication. The family interacts every day, discussing everything from new ideas for restaurant operations to crop developments, asking questions like “How is this fruit doing?” and “When is this vegetable coming on?”

They keep the TCBC chef updated on the answers, and menus shift seasonally. Daily features are also dependent on field reports, like a plum pear sauce for Wings Wednesday. It takes more coordination and work than typical restaurants, Billy admits, but it’s worth the effort.

“To be able to say, ‘I picked it’ or ‘my brother picked it at the farm today or yesterday’—I mean, talk about fresh,” Andrew says.

Billy Schultz loads apples for shipping
Billy Schultz loads apples for shipping
The Schultzes have discovered there is such a thing as too fresh, however. They once picked zucchini for TCBC and it was on plates within hours. The zucchini retained so much water that it was too moist. Learning curve aside, customers appreciate Schultz farm-to-Schultz restaurant table flavor.
Andrew Schultz with customers at TCBC
Andrew Schultz with customers at TCBC
“It’s always nice to hear the customers talk about that when they’re dining,” Dan says. “Talking to their friends about where it came from: our farm.”
That’s the case for one of their top sellers, the Schultz bison burger. The meat comes straight from their bison herd. Another example is the cherries and apples from their orchards used in craft brews: the Three Brothers IPA and the P-51 Porter, named after their grandfather, Victor Schultz, a WWII P-51 Mustang pilot.
Using the family’s own produce and meat in finished products brings the family so much satisfaction. “There’s a lot of gratification,” Billy says. “I’m pouring a glass of hard cider from the tap and I know that it came off of the farm. We made it into a hard cider and here I am pouring it into a glass for a customer to enjoy. That’s pretty cool.”
Producer's Pride
Apples
Donut Depot
The Schultz Donut Depot is located on the farm property
/ A HISTORY OF ENTREPRENEURIALISM /
How did TCBC start?
Billy traveled to Europe in 2010 and 2012 and discovered a thriving hard cider business. He came home, did some homework, and found a promising market. Billy proposed adding a “new dimension” to the farm.

Adding extra facets is par for the course. The Schultz family is also known for taking chances: Bill’s father, Victor, and his wife, Dorothy, sold everything in 1951 to purchase the farm, then 80 acres. In the 1970s, Bill and Denise added a farm market, and in 1994, a buffalo herd. Then, around 2012, the family established Schultz’s Donut Depot, a rustic log cabin on wheels that makes apple cinnamon donuts on the spot. And in 2013, the family started brewing hard cider.

GroundWork
Donut Depot
The Schultz Donut Depot is located on the farm property
The Tasting Room
They weren’t done yet, though. Because the previous 15 years’ weather had been difficult, the Schultz family sought a non-climate-dependent business addition: a tasting room for their craft beers and hard ciders. That idea snowballed into a restaurant. When Denise discovered a former church for sale five miles from their farm, they snapped it up.

“We stepped out of our comfort zone a long time ago,” Bill says, laughing.

By 14, Bill displayed entrepreneurial spirit and boldness to try new things. He launched a chicken business on his father’s vegetable farm that swiftly grew into a 600-egg incubator operation to hatch chicks.

Beer and cider
Beers and ciders served at TCBC
Audrey Schultz
Audrey Schultz bagging apples in the market
But it isn’t just the men in this family that keep this operation fruitful. Denise and their daughter, Robyn, manage the farm market; Andrew’s wife, Ruth, and stepson, Nolan Fillar, work at TCBC; and Dan’s wife Audrey, a photographer, takes the photographs that adorn the restaurant walls.
What’s Next?
The ideas never stop. Andrew smiles and says, “You’ve got to know when to go for it and when not to.”
The Tasting Room
They weren’t done yet, though. Because the previous 15 years’ weather had been difficult, the Schultz family sought a non-climate-dependent business addition: a tasting room for their craft beers and hard ciders. That idea snowballed into a restaurant. When Denise discovered a former church for sale five miles from their farm, they snapped it up.

“We stepped out of our comfort zone a long time ago,” Bill says, laughing.

By 14, Bill displayed entrepreneurial spirit and boldness to try new things. He launched a chicken business on his father’s vegetable farm that swiftly grew into a 600-egg incubator operation to hatch chicks.

Producer's Pride
Ready to visit TCBC for a delicious meal and a brew? Visit TexasCornersBrewing.com for more information.
About the Writer

Lisa Mackinder is a freelance writer based in Portage, Michigan.

Get in Touch with Out Here

Your ideas and opinions are important to us. If you’d like to recommend a story, submit a recipe, share an event for Here & There, or tell us what you think of the digital magazine, please reach out.

Send us a message
at OutHere@TractorSupply.com

Send mail to:
Out Here magazine
222 Merchandise Mart Plaza
P.O. Box 3477
Chicago, IL 60654-3477

Tractor Supply Co.