GRAND RAPIDS – A storied name in the city’s brewing history will return to downtown by late summer when Grand Rapids Brewing Company (GRBC) opens next door to the Van Andel Arena.
BarFly Ventures, owned by Mark and Michele Sellers, announced the brewpub will be the ground floor anchor tenant inside the historic Hawkins and Gunn Company buildings, 1 and 7 Ionia Ave. SW.
BarFly owns some of downtown’s best-known bars, including HopCat, Stella’s Lounge, The Viceroy and McFadden’s.
“Grand Rapids Brewing Co. will be a casual, family gathering place creating approximately 60 new jobs in the heart of our city,” Mark Sellers said. “This will be a great spot to grab dinner and some homemade beer before and after events at the arena. We envision it becoming a popular spot for watching a game with friends and family members.”
The brewpub will be open seven days for lunch and dinner, employing 60 people in a variety of jobs ranging from managers and brewmasters to servers and bartenders.
The new GRBC will offer a unique food menu, 8-10 of its own house-made beers and soft drinks. A selection of liquor, wine, and hard cider will also be available.
The original GRBC, once located at the corner of Michigan Street and Ottawa Avenue, closed on April 26, 1918 due to the Prohibition Act. It was once a dominant player in the regional beer market thanks to the popularity of its famous Silver Foam beer. BarFly plans to pay homage to the original Grand Rapids Brewing Co. with a new formulation of Silver Foam.
BarFly purchased the assets of a second incarnation of GRBC after it closed last year on 28th Street. Much of the new GRBC’s brewing equipment will come from that location. Members of the 28th Street GRBC Mug Club at the time it closed also will be given a free year’s membership in the new GRBC Mug Club.
BarFly plans to invest more than $1.5 million to renovate and combine what are currently separate store fronts in the Hawkins and Gunn buildings into a 10,000-square-foot space capable of seating up to 450 customers. An event space in the lower level will be able to accommodate parties of up to 100 people.
The western side of the building facing Van Andel Arena and a historic brick-paved alley will bring excitement and visual appeal by opening up what had been loading dock doors. BarFly plans to install a deck for open-air seating and, during summer months, will open the three large garage doors facing VanAndel Arena.
“This location is the corner of ‘Main and Main’ of the city’s entertainment district, and I couldn’t be more excited about locating GRBC here” Mark Sellers said. “We are excited to create another unique, locally owned anchor to what we think is becoming one of the most interesting entertainment districts in the Midwest.”
GRBC will occupy most of the ground floors of both buildings. It will be an integral part of the $7.5 million 616 Lofts on Ionia mixed-use project announced last week. That project will put 26 market-rate apartments on the upper three floors of the buildings and offices on the second floor.