Popular brewery, grocery store have new owners

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Great Northern Brewing Co. in downtown Whitefish. (Matt Baldwin/Daily Inter Lake FILE)

Great Northern Brewing Co. and Markus Foods in downtown Whitefish are under new property management, and while the new owners intend to retain Markus Foods as a grocery store, future plans for the brewery aren’t as clear-cut.

Last year, real estate developer Rob Isackson and his partners completed two separate property transactions to purchase the brewery building at 2 Central Ave. and the building that houses Markus Foods and a row of businesses stretching from Railway Street to First Street along Baker Avenue, including, SaltBox Dry Salt Therapy, Tree of Life Tattoo, 33 Baker Hair and Body Salon, One Heart Now and The Barefoot Haven.

Isackson said his family has had a home in Whitefish for over 20 years. He works with Village Properties in Belmont, California.

Isackson said plans are in the works to renovate the properties and maintain the existing businesses there. Construction is scheduled to begin in summer 2021.

“Our plan is to renovate and modernize the strip of shops, including the Markus Foods,” Isackson said in an email about the prominent downtown block. “It is our intention to maintain a grocery store at the location.”

Markus Foods opened in 1986, according to the grocery store’s website.

Isackson said the new owners have leased the grocery store and neighboring businesses to their current owners “for the time-being.”

Business owners of the various shops told the Daily Inter Lake they’re uncertain about the future of the block. They were informed about the change in property ownership in November by Integrity Property Management in Kalispell.

As for the brewery on the east side of the block, which has been a downtown landmark since opening in December 1994, Isackson said “the plan is to renovate the building and attract a craft brewery and restaurant to this iconic location.”

However, according to former brewery owner Jeanie Konopatzke, Great Northern Brewing Co. will remain open for business through President’s Day weekend in mid-February. After that, Konopatzke said the future of the brewery operation is uncertain. The search is on for a new owner to run the brewery, but if one doesn’t materialize soon, Konopatzke said the equipment may be dismantled and sold piece by piece.

“There’s a really slim chance that it can be revived,” Konopatzke added.

Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at bserbin@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.

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