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The Copper Pig

Dawn, left, and Marc Schulz stand outside The Copper Pig BBQ & Taproom, 10 E. Genesee St., Auburn, in June 2016.

AUBURN — The pig-shaped barbecue smoker on the sidewalk outside 10 E. Genesee St. will be gone after Sept. 29.

That will be the last day of business for The Copper Pig BBQ & Taproom, the barbecue restaurant Dawn and Marc Schulz opened in June 2016. They announced the closure Wednesday on Facebook.

The Schulzes decided to close the restaurant in order to focus on the imminent expansion of their other downtown business, Prison City Pub & Brewery, Dawn said at the brewpub Wednesday. The expansion is a new facility that will raise the popular brewery's production of Mass Riot India pale ale and other beers from about 1,000 barrels a year to 10,000. 

Dawn said Prison City will decide and secure the site of the facility within the next few weeks. Finding a site that meets their water, sewer and other needs has "been the big hurdle," she said. 

As the facility demands more and more of their attention, the Schulzes decided it wouldn't be fair to continue running The Copper Pig as an afterthought.

"I just don't feel like I'm a great absentee owner," Dawn said. "I want to be involved personally. So we started thinking, 'Why are we doing this?'"

It's also for that reason that the Schulzes have shelved plans to open candy shop Rudolph's Sugar Shack at 99 Genesee St. Since buying that building in late 2016, they've replaced its roof, installed a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, and renovated its bathrooms to make them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Dawn said. The project could also receive support from Auburn's $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant, as the building was one of five named in the $1 million Main Street Improvement Program in the city's grant proposal.

But when the Schulzes do reopen 99 Genesee St., they'll look for someone else to lease its first-floor retail space, Dawn said. The building will have apartments on its upper floors as well.

The Schulzes informed The Copper Pig's staff of its closure a couple months ago, Dawn said, giving them time to prepare. They've also been offered jobs at Prison City, she added.

Customers can use their gift cards, or receive refunds for them, through Sept. 29.

As for The Copper Pig's menu, Dawn said Prison City could add an item or two, such as the Taco Tuesday special or vegan soup. The brewpub doesn't have proper ventilation for a smoker, though.

It's also possible that The Copper Pig reopens under new ownership, Dawn said. She and Marc are hoping to sell the business and its barbecue equipment, and they have two interested parties, she added. But the space's future is ultimately in the hands of the building's owner, VG Rentals, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment. VG Rentals renovated the building after Daut's closed there in 2013, and reopened the restaurant space as HobNob Kitchen & Bar two years later. HobNob went on hiatus four months after opening, then became The Copper Pig.

For the Schulzes, meanwhile, the future means one thing: Prison City beer.

"That's our mantra: More beer," Dawn said. "Make more beer."

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Lake Life Editor David Wilcox can be reached at (315) 282-2245 or david.wilcox@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @drwilcox.

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Features editor for The Citizen.