GRAND RAPIDS — What do dilapidated buildings, shipping containers and craft beer all have in common?
Grand Rapids’ first official outdoor beer garden is slated to open late this summer on the west side. As with any bar in Beer City USA, you’ll find plenty of craft beer, along with craft spirits, cider and wines. But that’s where the similarities end.
The brainchild of Rick Muschiana, The Sovengard will be a European-style beer garden that will feature plenty of green space, some indoor seating, and a bar housed in a used shipping container.
“It’ll be about three-quarters outside, and then we’ll have some indoor seating for about 99 people. Our total capacity is going to be around 227 seats. We’re really excited about that, and using sustainable and reclaimed building materials,” said Muschiana, pointing to his former position with Brewery Vivant for instilling that mindset in him.
“That’s what makes Michigan great, is the seasons, the outdoors, the nature and the lakes — sometimes you can lose sight of that when you’re living in an urban environment,” he said. “Our thought process was, ‘what can we do to rejoin that and really be an asset for urban living?'”
The atmosphere won’t be the only unique aspect, either. Muschiana plans on channeling some Scandinavian influence in all aspects of the business, specifically the New Nordic Movement.
“There’s a group of now-renowned chefs in those Scandinavian countries doing some amazing things and promoting self-sufficiency and agricultural sustainability. I think that’s all important to us, and craft beer, cider, spirits and small production wine — they all fit in there.”
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Click above to view the entire site plan
Additionally, The Sovengard is aiming to become the first bar in Grand Rapids with a fully-dedicated crowler system, which is also in use by White Flame and Perrin Brewing. The system allows guests to can beers to take home, rather than put them in standard growlers.
The bar is going so far as to offer a Crowler Club, allowing members to fill three crowlers per month.
The Sovengard started an IndieGoGo campaign on Tuesday, which will run throughout the end of June. It is trying to raise $25,000, offering not only its own perks, but some from businesses like Citizenshirt, BenchDog Studio, Detroit Bikes and more. The Crowler Club is also available as a perk.
When all is said and done, Muschiana hopes that he can offer a unique beer garden to the otherwise urban environment, as well as offer food and libations that guests wouldn’t otherwise be able to find locally.
“Lord knows we have enough bars and restaurants in the city. I think the underlying theme is that there is a movement happening — people want to eat better, drink better. They want their dollars to count for something, and be more than just filling up the tank,” said Muschiana. “We really want to be a part of that movement and offer something new and different, and be original — embrace the community. We want it to be as much of a hang out and community space as we do a business space and beer garden.”
“It’s adding another layer to flavor, to interest and destination, and really making Grand Rapids as a city, a hub.”
Muschiana plans for The Sovengard to open late summer or early fall at its 443 Bridge Street location.