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Grand Rapids, Mich. — Early this spring, Harmony Hall will switch out their menu full of handmade sausages with one full of wood-fired pizzas.

The change responds to a demand Harmony Brewing Company Co-Founders and siblings Barry VanDyke, Jackson Arthur VanDyke and Heather VanDyke-Titus have received since they opened their brew pub’s second location in 2015.

harmony hall

Jackson Arthur VanDyke, Heather VanDyke-Titus, Barry VanDyke

“Since we’ve opened our doors at Harmony Hall, people have been saying, ‘Where’s your pizza?’,” said Barry VanDyke.

The Grand Rapids brew pub’s thin crust, wood-fired pizza is widely popular. It was named Fourth Best Pizza in Michigan by MLive twice and Best Pizza by Revue’s “Best of the West” Reader’s Poll twice.

Now customers will be able to get it on the west side of town, but with a twist that pays homage to Harmony Hall’s unique personality.

Harmony Hall’s new menu will share a selection of flagship pizzas with the Eastown location, along with a few of its own specialties. Where Harmony Brewing Company has its Eastown Folk Funk pizza, Harmony Hall will have a Stockbridge pizza “that has actually got mustard and kapusta on it, which sounds weird, but it’s delicious,” Barry VanDyke said.

Bringing pizzas to Harmony Hall means some big changes have to happen in the kitchen—and on the menu.

“Our pizza is famously wood-fired pizza, and according to code you can only have one fuel source underneath a single hood,” Barry VanDyke said. “Because we want to move to pizza, we have to unfortunately get rid of all our grills and our fryers and everything else.”

That means Harmony Hall won’t be serving its sausage dishes. But those flavors won’t disappear entirely.

“Chef Liza Marvin is riffing on some of the sausages that we had, so she’s got a bulgogi pizza and others,” Heather VanDyke-Titus said.

In addition to pizzas, the new menu will keep some of Harmony Hall’s favorite appetizers, salads and sandwiches.

Harmony Hall’s kitchen will have to undergo some construction to accommodate the new wood-fired equipment, which is expected to take two weeks. Demo started on Mar. 19. The new menu is slated to launch Apr. 11, if all goes according to plan.

In the interim, Harmony Hall is serving a limited version of their sausage menu out of the prep kitchen, but the co-founders expect the inconvenience to be minimal.

“Liza is such a crazy hard worker that her limited version of the menu looks a lot like the full version of the menu,” Heather VanDyke-Titus said.

Once the kitchen is finished and the new menu is in place, customers can look forward to some previously impossible opportunities. People will be able to host events catered with Harmony pizza in Harmony Hall’s banquet room. And the staff will have more room to experiment.

“Having the two locations both provide the same product allows us to do a lot of new things, like handmade mozzarella and making our own sausage for the Italian sausage,” Barry VanDyke said.

Ultimately, the change means a more consistent brand for Harmony Brewing Company.

“We’re looking at this as an opportunity to unify what Harmony is all about and get down to the roots of we do, which is good, handmade from scratch food,” Barry VanDyke said. “This is what Harmony is: We’re pizza, we’re beer, and I think the customers are going to really respond well to it.”

 

creston brewery

Grand Rapids, Mich Creston Brewery has finalized plans to begin construction this week on their second floor banquet hall space. This beautiful and historically preserved 5000 square foot space will include a 210+ person banquet hall space as well as a 30 person conference room space, and a second bar with 20 taps of house beer, choice MI wines, ciders, and spirits. The facility will be served by the existing 20 barrel brewhouse, 2500 square foot full-service kitchen, the existing staff of 36 employees, and the expansion will create at least 10 new positions.

“We could not have done this without the support of our community, the Creston neighborhood,” Co-Owner Vincent Lambert said. “The growth of the Creston Business District has ensured our commitment to the neighborhood, and we’re excited as ever to be providing more of what have become hallmarks of our young business – high quality beer, food, service, and entertainment in one of the most unique, beautiful settings in our city.”

Creston Brewery, founded by co-owners Scott Schultz, Molly Bouwsma-Schultz, Vincent Lambert, and Cailin Kelly, opened in August of 2016 as a brewery, restaurant, taproom, and event space. “The banquet hall will complete our first phase of the business: growing our business organically to fully utilize our space at 1504 Plainfield Ave. as a destination for our neighbors, our city, and beer-loving tourists alike. Our next steps will be to utilize our 2nd floor space for concerts, curated beer dinners, stand-up comedy acts, DJs, yoga classes, dance classes, etc. – you name it, we have the perfect venue for it,” Co-Owner and Brewmaster Scott Schultz says of their plans.

The construction is expected to take four months with an anticipated opening date of May of 2018. Creston Brewery plans to host weddings, banquets, non-profit, corporate, and other private events for 2018 with an eye on expanding the use of the space beginning in 2019. Parties interested in this space should contact events@crestonbrewery.com.

 

For the month of December Harmony Hall will be selling ornaments to raise funds for the WestSide Collaborative’s resident empowerment grant program. All proceeds from the sale of the ornaments will go to the grant program. Harmony Hall will kick off the fundraiser with a celebration on December 8, 2016. The celebration will feature local band, The Bootstrap boys playing holiday music from 6-9 pm, the release of the beer, Gingerbread Brown, and festive food specials.

harmony hall

Representatives from the WestSide Collaborative will be present to share information about the grant program.

Through the month of December the WestSide Collaborative is accepting ideas and applications for the resident empowerment grant program on their website. Residents are encouraged to submit  proposals  for community improvement projects. Westside neighbors will then vote to see which project will be awarded up to $1,000.  

“The WestSide Collaborative is a group of local non-profits and neighborhood organizations located in and working on the WestSide of Grand Rapids. We seek to address the marginalization of WestSide residents due to the concentration of power held by entities and individuals other than the residents themselves. We exist to see a more equitable, inclusive and hope-filled WestSide Community”.

butchery

Harmony Hall, the companion to the flagship Harmony Brewing Company in Eastown, Grand Rapids, knows a thing or two about craft.

A smaller brewery in our saturated beer city, Harmony recognized right away the need to produce quality product, and that went beyond just the beer. From the beginning, it was about sourcing locally and providing craft food to compliment the craft beer. In the instance of the Eastown locale, it was about the pizza — fresh toppings, local farms, and a wood fired oven.

For the Westside location, Harmony Brewing dug into neighborhood roots and drew inspiration from the building itself. Harmony Hall is the former Rauser Quality Sausage Co., built in 1908. German, Polish, and Irish immigrants defined the vibe of the Westside of Grand Rapids, and brought cultural heritage as well as plenty of delicious food options, including locally made sausage.

Talking with Gabe Araujo, head Chef at Harmony Hall, he reiterates this point. “Anyone who knows Harmony [Brewing Company] know they have always been very adamant about using sustainable resources and keeping everything local and fresh.” Sausage and beer? Well, that just makes sense.

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Beyond the revitalization of the past and nod to the architecture of the building, Harmony Hall chooses not to just serve sausage, but to source its own product, butchering its pigs in-house and making all their sausages from scratch.

“All of the pigs come from local farms.” says Araujo, “currently Heffron Farms, and we’ll be working with Rakowski Family Farms as well soon. We’re in contact with Provision Family Farms, which raise all heritage hogs like red wattle. They are adorable and delicious.”

There is a renaissance beyond just the craft nature of the beer, and more and more places are realizing that the quality of the food they offer needs to stand with and compliment the quality of beer they provide. Harmony Hall is one of these early influencers, recognizing that the consumer who chooses craft over mass market probably isn’t one who will settle for frozen french fries and something dipped in ranch.

There’s a beauty in butchery, and it’s easy to see. We’ll just let these pictures speak for themselves.

Photography: Steph Harding

GRAND RAPIDS – After almost exactly two years in the works, the owners of Harmony Brewing Company opened their massive new restaurant and brewery, Harmony Hall, Oct. 6.

A steady flow of patrons filled, but did not crowd, the new space on its first day.

Harmony Hall has two floors of seating, 24 taps, and a menu full of different varieties of sausage. Its design is influenced by the building’s previous occupants, making for eclectic decor.

“We’re trying to honor not only the neighborhood, but the history of this building itself,” said Barry VanDyke, co-owner of Harmony Brewing Company.

The building’s exterior is painted to look classically Bavarian, which calls back to its origins as the Rauser Quality Sausage Factory. Brightly colored sculptures and original art from Little Mexico, the building’s last restaurant, adorn the first floor. The VanDykes have affectionately named it “The Monster Room.”

But Harmony’s style embodies its name—there’s nothing discordant about the German and Mexican influences in the decor.

Harmony Hall’s brewery, which is three times the size of the original system in Eastown, is also on the ground floor. Large windows frame the equipment for passers by on the street to admire.

The new system has twice the brewing capacity and three times the fermentation capacity. It will be used to produce Harmony’s mainstays.

“[Eastown] is where we’re going to do the smaller, more idiosyncratic batches of beer,” said Jackson VanDyke, co-owner of Harmony Brewing Company.

The new equipment enables Harmony to make Lagers, which require more temperature control than Harmony could previously accomplish. Harmony Hall will also be putting out more barrel aged brews. Right now, Jackson VanDyke says they’re preparing for a tequila barrel-aged Imperial Red IPA.

A walk upstairs leads to the main restaurant and beer hall, which feels simultaneously familiar and brand new. The open space is huge and has windows on every side; it isn’t as intimate as Harmony’s Eastown space. But it’s bedecked with potted greenery, lacquered wood, a pussy willow chandelier, and a giant Woosah mural. It’s still Harmony, but it’s Harmony on German-themed steroids.

The new space will be much more friendly for larger groups, said Harmony Employee Brian DenBoer. The view out of the front windows sweetens the deal even more.

“That’s what I’m most excited for, I think,” said DenBoer. “To have lunch with a friend and sit in front of the cityscape out there on a nice day. Get a little sun on your face.”

 

The sausages on the menu are diverse in inspiration. French, Korean, Creole, and German are just a few of the styles offered. DenBoer’s favorite is the Bulgogi, a Korean barbecue beef and pork sausage.

“The food here is amazing,” he said.

For now, a sit-down sausage lunch or dinner is what patrons will get at Harmony Hall, but Barry VanDyke says “phase two” of the expansion will entail sausage sold for retail out of the Monster Room.


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