The Ada Pour House Gastropub has already developed the moniker ‘The People’s Pub’ in the small town of Ada, and the pub isn’t scheduled to even open until today.
Despite that, it already has a reputation of being friendly, real, accessible and approachable to its new clientele.
Rob Aldridge, owner, has been in the industry for 22 years, owning his own little bistro on the east side of the state, then transitioning to the corporate world after selling the place. Ever since, he always wanted to go back into the restaurant business as an owner.
“I wanted a pub style restaurant, serving comfort food with a twist,” says Aldridge. “[The town of Ada] was kind of begging for it. There are very few restaurants here. ”
Without blending into the over-saturation of pubs and bars in a place like downtown Grand Rapids, The Pour House is bringing something new and unique to Ada — a place serving a variety of Michigan beer and spirits, classical, accessible food and a staff who very much wants to be embedded into the local community.
Combining two locations, a former ice cream store and a tanning salon, the Pour House is an open, inviting space, full of natural light from the many windows and comfortable corners to sit in. Throughout construction, there was never paper on the windows or locked doors. Facebook posts showed the transition, and if anyone happened to wander by, they were always welcome to come in.
“We were always taking in people’s ideas, and we grew from there,” shares Aldridge.
From the get-go, it was important for them to stay as local as possible, from the builder, the sign marker, to the food and, of course, the beer. Thirteen out of the sixteen taps and around 40 out of the 60 bottles feature Michigan brews everything from Founders to Short’s to smaller breweries like Cellar Brewing out of Sparta and Ada’s own Sietsema Orchards hard apple cider.
Jake Stankowski, the Bar Service Manager, works to not only select a good mix of beverages and options for the Pour House’s customers, but worked hard to select the right staff mix of talent and personality behind the bar as well.
Education and training for the staff is part of the game plan, on not only the beers that are carried, but wine and mixed drinks as well. Hand crafted, in-house made recipes for traditional mixed drinks like an old fashioned will be on the menu when they open.
“We’ve stuffed our front of house with great personality and a basis of knowledge. We can teach anyone how to make a drink or understand beer, but we wanted a likeable, approachable serve staff as well, that will give you, the customer, a good experience when you come here,” says Stankowski.
The menu complements the vibe and incorporates the beer, for instance in an appetizer like mussels, using whatever beer works best for the season.
Patrick McKay, the Executive Chef, has developed a concept menu that focuses on quality product and craft method. With 17 years in the industry, he understands the complexity and skill needed to make something tasty, something as simple as their burger — which isn’t that simple at all.
“I want the food to be approachable, but the way in which it is delivered and prepared that’s where we focus. We fold in classical technique and method, and this goes unseen, which is fine. As long as the final product is delicious, we are happy,” he says.
The biggest takeaway from the Ada Pour House? Approachability. If you have a suggestion for a beer you wanna see on tap, give it to them. If you have questions about the food, the service, anything at all — Aldridge wants you to ask. Service and accessibility, focusing on local and providing a family atmosphere are what Ada Pour House wants to become.
“We have a phenomenal product, the right processes in place and talented and friendly employees,” says Aldridge. “These are all pieces of a big puzzle, and we think it will work out well. Hugs and high fives, that’s what we’re about.”