Tag Archives: Beer

It’s SPREADING…Beer Spill in West Michigan!

I’m overwhelmed… not just writing timely posts on this blog. I’m overwhelmed with beer, i.e. there are too many Michigan microbreweries. It’s like someone opened up a microbrewery and poured it all over West Michigan. But why? Does Michigan really have favorable beer laws?

Who else remembers the days when we only had to worry about the big three in West Michigan Microbrews – Bell’s from Kalamazoo, Founders from Grand Rapids, and New Holland from Holland. That was it. Now it feels like when I am drinking one of those I am drinking…GASP… a Macrobrew, e.g. Budweiser, Miller.

So lets focus on all the West Michigan Microbreweries (we will stick to West Michigan so I don’t go crazy, and I will draw an arbitrary line down the middle of Michigan), there have been attempts to do this in the past and they just haven’t quite gotten all of them or just did not have the space for it all.

Here are some of the most recent examples:

So let’s start the full comprehensive list, of currently open breweries in the area:

Grand Rapids

  • Founders Brewing Company – By the way whats up with all the other “Founders” businesses – Founders Bank & Trust, Founders Wine Cellar. Some facts, Founders was founded in 1997, and they expanding big time.
  • Schmohz Brewing – Where scantily clad ladies adorn almost all the bottles. Where they used to have a horrible looking website with the white checkered background and choppy navigation. Glad they got a new one.
  • The B.O.B. – Has its own brewing facilities at the restaurant and entertainment complex, where they serve their various microbrews.
  • Hideout Brewing – This brewery was modeled after the pre-prohibition breweries, and the interior decor has been modeled after prohibition area photos to give the brewery that feel.
  • Brewery Vivant – Despite having a rooster on the logo, Vivant doesn’t mean Rooster in French. This brewery was founded by Jason Spaulding, one of the co-founders of New Holland Brewery, after he sold his interest in 2008.
  • Jaden James Brewery – One of the breweries that grew out of an existing winery. Jaden James is located at Cascade Winery in Grand Rapids.
  • HopCat – One of the purported best beer bars in the world, with a massive beer selection, they have start to expand their offerings by brewing their own beer. I can see why they have a pretty massive beer list.
  • Harmony Brewing Company – One of the newest additions to the GR beer scene, they just opened Feb. 1st by 3 siblings. They also own Bear Manor Properties, that own a number of rental buildings in the the Uptown area of Grand Rapids.
  • The Mitten Brewing Company – The baseball themed brewery, and as a baseball fan I am extremely intrigued by this one, though I am surprised that their logo doesn’t feature any baseball theme in it… maybe make the mitten look more like a mitt. Just a thought. Also they have the unusual distinction of having some brand confusion, with the likes of Big Mitten Brewing Company in Plymouth (though they may not be around anymore, website is down), and Mitten Brew a beer blog,
  • Grand Rapids Brewing Company – (FB Link)
    Who Likes Blinding Contrast?

    This was an original brewery in Grand Rapids, started in1893 that ended during the prohibition. The brand and the beer names were bought and brought back in 1993, where they operated a brewery and restaurant on 28th Street. The business was sold a couple of times, and was finally shuttered in June 2011. In September 2011, Mark Sellers owner of Hopcat, and plenty of other bars in Grand Rapids (all under the BarFly properties name), purchased the assets of the brewery and all the brand names, and plans to reopen the brewery somewhere in downtown Grand Rapids, but he is not ready to say where yet. ok the location is on Ionia & Fulton. Additionally there was a recent announcement that the GRBC will be an organic brewery,which if successful would be the first organic brewery in Michigan. It’s a good way to stand out in a crowded field.

  • Rockford Brewing Company – Brewery opened up on Dec. 20, 2012.  Here is a little background on the brewery.
  • Perrin Brewing CompanyNow Open. I took some more time to read about Perrin and how it got started.  It is a peculiar tale, of Randy Perrin, founder of a screen-printing/apparel company, aptly named Perrin Resort Apparel.  He is a board member now, and he gave back the company to his employees through an employee stock ownership program.  At some point Perrin decided he wanted to open a brewery.  The mlive story mentions how Perrin is a Bud Light drinker, and how he doesn’t like “strong, hoppy beers”, which I find somewhat odd, that a person who isn’t a craft beer fan has this interest in opening up a craft brewery (most of which focus and feature “strong, hoppy beers”). Though Perrin did state that he wanted his brewery to have craft beers that appeal to the craft beer enthusiasts, but also have some beers that appeal to the “domestic light beer” drinkers like himself.  I guess that whole angle could explain why they decided to go so large with their initial operation, 20,000 barrels. Their current system has the capacity to be the fourth largest brewery in West Michigan, behind Bells, Founders, New Holland.  That is pretty impressive to be that large already immediately when you open.  Most of the other breweries have done gradual expansions to get to their current size.  More details about Perrin can be found  here,  here, and here. Early on, they also had some are branding identity issues.  The one on the left was the first logo they put out there with their initial announcement, and the logo on the right is what they have settled on.

  • Osgood Brewing in Grandville – The brewery desert between Grand Rapids and Hudsonville, just got an oasis in Grandville with Osgood. Husband/wife team are starting the brewery and they named it after the first tavern owner in Grandville, Hiram Osgood (Being a history nerd, I do enjoy this connection). They also make a nice case for their Grandville location on their blog. Which is interesting because just last month I drove through this stretch of Grandville, and though it was pretty cool. It was nice to see that Grandville actually had a personality beyond the massive commercial district off of Rivertown/44th Street.Osgood
  • Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply in Ada – Per Mlive, Ada will be having a brewery and a home brewer supply store in one. Now open.
  • Cranker’s Restaurant & Brewery – In Cutlerville, they re-furbished Coney Island restaurant into restaurant and brewery, based on their Big Rapids brewery.

Kalamazoo Area

  • Paw Paw Brewing Company – In Paw Paw, and they do in fact have a paw print in their logo. Well more like a hop with some claws attached. This brewery was founded by two brothers-in-law, it also mentions how they were able to ask questions and learn from some of the other microbreweries in the state.
  • Bell’s Brewery – The grandfather of Michigan microbrews opened up in 1985, look at what its spawned, at least according to some people in the industry – according to hopcatgr in the BeerAdvocate.com cache version of their forum, he offered this insight ” One, Larry Bell is a visionary but I think he’s also a tough guy to work for (sorry Larry) so a number of people learned there and then went off to start their own thing. That got the ball rolling”. More on this near the end of the post.
  • Olde Pennisula BrewPub – This restaurant and brewpub is located in downtown Kalamazoo.
  • Arcadia Brewing Company – In Battle Creek, prides itself on crafting British-Style ales, and was founded in 1996. They are moving to a downtown Kalamazoo location in summer of 2013. This will become their primary product facility and will also feature a brewpub. They will retain a presence in Battle Creek as well. I was also surprised The owner’s name… Tim Surprise (just had to work that in there.)
  • Dark Horse Brewing Company – In Marshall, Dark Horse has an interesting backstory, the founder Aaron Morse opened up a brewpub, which failed, but he tried again by opening up a brewery which has become pretty successful, undergoing a $700,000 expansion in 2011. It also states that they are looking at adding on distillery, bakery, creamery, and candy shop, which might be taking diversification a little too far.
  • Bravo Restaurant & Cafe – in Kalamazoo, on the website it states that they are the only restaurant in Kalamazoo that brews its own beer, but what about Bilbo’s and Olde Pennisula? Or maybe a restaurant classification is different than a pizza place, and brew-pub.
  • Boatyard Brewing Company – in Kalamazoo. Beer fever strikes again in West Michigan, the name seems to fit better for a lakeshore town though.
  • Bilbo’s Pizza – Not only does Middle Earth serve pizza, but it also brews its own beer… no word on the pipeweed. The microbrews are only available at their Stadium Drive location in Kalamazoo.
  • Latitude 42 – Portage. SW Michigan Dinning did a write up, and looks like they have a kids play area.
  • Kissell Brewing Company – Galesburg. Website is quite confusing.
  • Tibbs Brewing Company – Kalamazoo. This nano brewery is now open in Kalamazoo as of 12/6/2013.
  • Gonzo’s BiggDogg Brewing – in Kalamazoo. Not a big fan of the name but who I am I to judge. This blog seems to keep pretty close tabs on the development of the brewery though which is now open.

Lakeshore

  • Odd Side Ales – in Grand Haven. They have a nice story, a former accountant laid off, starts a brewery with wife. It is also known as one of the smallest breweries in the country, so you will often find a rotating unique beers available in limited quantities.
  • Old Boys’ Brewhouse – in Spring Lake, is a brewpub place, which was inspired by a dog named Brutus, though affectionately called Old Boy. They are also looking to expand per this recent article in mlive.
  • New Holland Brewing – In Holland, this is another old timer who got started in 1997. It was co-founded by two individuals, one of whom is running Brewery Vivant, read more about that in this old Ledger post.
  • Our Brewing Company – Now open in downtown Holland! They seem to be doing well because they keep running out of beer. This will be a nanobrewery (still waiting for someone to use the term “itty-bittybrewery” instead of micro or nano), meaning that they will have limited production batches of beer.
  • Saugatuck Brewing Company – in Saugatuck… or actually it’s in Douglas… the name is pure lies, just like the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
  • The Round Barn Brewery – in Baroda. One of the few cross-over winery/breweries like Jaden James in Grand Rapids.
  • The Livery – in Benton Harbor, surprisingly the only microbrewery in the Benton Harbor/St. Joe area. Named after the over 100 year old building in which the brewery now resides which was once called the “Palace Livery”. More from mlive.
  • Jamesport Brewing Company – is a brewpub located in Ludington. Mlive’s take.
  • Greenbush Brewing Company– in Sawyer, They have a unique tie to Chicago, mainly through their distributor, but they have gotten lots of press out of Chicago as witnessed on their press page. One of the co-owners is from Chicago, so that could explain that connection, but still pretty impressive for brewery opened for less than a year to already have that distribution in place.
  • Big Lake Brewing – Holland Township. The location will be in the 144th, Riley, and Butternut area right next to Thai Palace & near Peppinos (I have to agree with the location not being ideal as one of the commenters noted). Three engineers are starting the brewery which will also be a winery as well (note another combo to add to my list). Here is the initial small blurb on the bottom of the Holland Sentinel article.  Enjoyed this past reference about  their opening – please pay special attention to the idiots commenting – requiring Discover Holland to reply back 3 times on the location of this brewery.
  • Stormcloud Brewery – Frankfort.  Well this one qualifies as either Lakeshore or up north, because Frankfort fits both.  Thanks to a Redditer for this submission.
  • Tapistry Brewing Co. – in Bridgman. Now open.
  • Clay Avenue Brewing – Muskegon

Other

  • Michigan Beer Cellar – in Sparta, maybe they should have called it Michigan Beer Seller !!!!!! (this post is wearing on me)
  • Waldorf Brewpub – in Hastings
  • Middle Villa Inn & Microbrewery – in Middleville. They are very found of their water, per the website its the best ingredient in their beer, and Middleville has the best water in Michigan. Next post I will rate the water on tap throughout the state.
  • Patchwork Brewery – in Decatur. Not only does Patchwork describe the curtains, the renovation process of the building, or the bar (which is really cool), but also the website (I kid, it’s fine). If you want to learn more about the renovation process and curtains read this. This brewery is a woman owned and brewed, which just prompted me to create another column in my spreadsheet – woman owned.
  • Dewey Cannon Winery & Brewery – in Three Oaks, here are some of their beers.
  • White Flame Brewing Company – in Hudsonville, this has to be a Kenny Powers fan right? Nah its just based on the owner/brewer’s last name of White, and his wife’s nickname… boring… why wouldn’t someone name a brewery after their favorite TV show. I mean Bilbo’s Pizza did it with a book. Note if I ever open a brewery it will be named after some reference in “A Song of Ice and Fire” maybe something with Crows.
  • Pike 51 Brewery – Another one in Hudsonville, this one flew under the radar and I just found out about it in Late May 2012 with this mlive article. The brewery is within the existing Hudsonville Winery which opened in 2008, and both businesses are co-owned by two friends.
  • Harpers Brewpub – East Lansing
  • Eaglemonk Pub & Brewery – Lansing.  Thanks to Reddit again for this on.
  • Cranker’s Brewery- in Big Rapids
  • Blue Cow – Big Rapids as well. Their logo says they are a brewpub but there isn’t much else on the website to support that. Though according to this Big Rapids Brewing Company is at the Blue Cow Restaurant.
  • Old Mill Brewpub – in Plainwell.  Interesting and ironic history note, is that the location of this brewpub, the Sunshine Flour mill was once owned by a leading prohibitionist who helped pass that law in Michigan John Eesley. Here is an mlive story.

Up North

Breweries in the Pipeline
So since we have come up with 38 breweries that are currently open and serving beers, we now we are going to look at the rest of the breweries “brewing” in the area. There will be 12 more.

Grand Rapids Area

Allegan County

  • Barking Cat Brewery – Eh not to thrilled with the name, but I do like cats. It’s also one of the only breweries that does not have a location/city confirmed, they are looking to open in 2013. More info here.

Lakeshore

Kalamazoo

Up North

Other

So why is there such an abundance of microbreweries in Michigan ( we are only focusing on the West side of the state)? Typing this question into google did not yield many results, but I did come across someone asking this same question in an old forum post on BeerAdvocate.com. You are best skipping to the bottom of of the page and work your way up (stupid commentators contributing nothing early on, much like you guys 🙂 ). Some theories that were thrown out were the following:

  • Water quality ( especially in Middleville)
  • Cheap Real Estate
  • Buy Local Movement/Pride in the State
  • Farming conditions and climate for growing barley and wheat

But look at the last comment, its from hopcatgr, which I presume is Mark Sellers owner of Hopcat in Grand Rapids ( I could be wrong though). But he states the following:

“There are several factors. One, Larry Bell is a visionary but I think he’s also a tough guy to work for (sorry Larry) so a number of people learned there and then went off to start their own thing. That got the ball rolling.
Two, we’re allowed by law to distribute beer and still have a retail taproom (in Georgia and some other states, if you distribute you can’t have a taproom). Without a retail taproom it’s much harder to make a profit as a new brewery. So the law is on our side here.
Three, there’s no ABV (editor: Alcohol By Volume) cap like there is in Utah and some other states. We are free to make whatever beer we want.
Four, there’s a lot of space, real estate is cheap. For a brewery, you need a lot of low-cost space. That’s why there are very few breweries in NYC despite high population density and affluent customer base, while there are quite a few in Grand Rapids, MI.
And five…most important…the number of breweries/brewpubs PER CAPITA in Michigan is actually lower than several other states.”

So since those comments are coming from an actual brewer I would think that those are some good, honest reasons for the rise in microbreweries in Michigan. The most surprising one was the mentoring by Larry Bell of Bell’s Brewery, and how many people have left to start there own. Anyone have information on what breweries were started by Bell’s Brewery disciples? Also the retail taproom concept makes sense because almost all the breweries listed in this article either are running a brewpub, or selling their beers in other ways. So almost all of the microbreweries are taking advantage of having a retail taproom, and they are able to position themselves better in the market and become a destination for consumers. Which leads me to my next point about location. I was shocked at the number of breweries in Traverse City, which had 10 breweries currently and a few more planned. That is the same amount as Grand Rapids, a city with 774,160 residents in the metropolitan area, compared to 143,372 in the area around Traverse City. I definitely see some opportunities with a brewery in St. Joseph (which has nothing), or even New Buffalo, which are both big tourist cities at least in the summer. These are both some nice lakeshore cities. Another thought would be opening up a brewery in the casino towns, you know give people another reason to visit instead of just gambling, like drinking.

If I was skilled at graphic design, I would create an infographic on all the breweries, but I can’t so instead I created a spreadsheet. For example there are 9 breweries that an animal reference either in name, or that display an animal in their logo. There are 6 breweries that are named after the location they are based in (though the Saugatuck Brewing Company is debatable since it it actually located in the Douglas). Then there are 16 breweries that have a name that references either Michigan or a landmark in Michigan. Then there are 3 breweries that make reference to pop culture. Finally, and most importantly out of the 58 currently operating breweries, I have had tried 30 of them. Want to know what other zany categories these breweries fall into? Then download my spreadsheet “TheLedgerBeerList“, it’s pretty great.

I think it’s time for The Ledger West Michigan Microbrewery Crawl 2012 2013! How many of these can we hit in a day, and who has a big bus we can use? Anyone? Remember I have only tried 30, and many more to go especially when the new ones open up.

R.I.P. Micro Breweries

So did I miss anything, and more columns for my spreadsheet. Any more interesting facts about the breweries mentioned above?

MiBiz Has No “Biz-ness” Writing Headlines

Writing headlines is a pain.  Often times it is the last thing I do before I post my stories, usually after many deletions and rewritings.  So I can’t fault MiBiz too much for their choice of headlines but wow they do really kick up the corniness.  Peruse the list below:

Which MiBiz headline do you like the best?  Can you find any other good ones in their archives?  More importantly my headlines aren’t that bad… are they?

Note:  Remember you can read MiBiz stories free of charge if you just sign up for an account

Business Schism in West Michigan

I was once told by a business adviser that when entering in business with a partner, you better know everything about your partner, because you will be “sleeping with your partner”.  Rereading this statement, I think he stated it much more clearly and concisely, but the point is things are about to get really intimate with you and your partner, so you better know them inside and out, have a similar vision, and be able to work together well.

Inevitably lots of times these business partnerships do not always work out for one reason or another.  But wouldn’t you love to know why?  What happened? What are the grievances?  Well I have compiled a short list of businesses in West Michigan which were started by two partners (in most cases or families) and now they have split up and each partner is doing their own thing, most often in the exact same line of business as the one they worked with their partner in.  Awkward!

Case 1:  New Holland Brewing Company & Brewery Vivant

New Holland Brewing Company was started by two friends (grew up together in Midland, and both attended Hope College) Brett VanderKamp and Jason Spaulding in 1996.  Spaulding sold his shares in NewHolland in 2008. The only reason I could find on why he sold his shares was to “focus on economic development work with Lakeshore Advantage.”, where he worked as Vice President of Business Services. After his stint at Lakeshore Advantage, Spaulding attended a brewing school in Munich, Germany and after that we worked as a bar manager at Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Now just  two years later, Brewery Vivant, a Spaulding creation at 925 Cherry Street SE Grand Rapids, MI has a scheduled opening of December 2010.  Could it be a non-compete agreement has expired?  Luckily to avoid some of the awkwardness, the breweries are located in different cities.  And what is up with Rooster logo – I like roosters (here & here) as much as the next guy but roosters are like this year’s “it” corporate animal.  I would what will be next – perhaps the stately Goat.

Case 2: Crazy Horse Steakhouse & Saloon and Salt & Pepper Savory Grill & Pub

In 1997, Mark Herman and Mike Karas became co-owners of Crazy Horse Steakhouse & Saloon in Holland, MI.  After 12 years of ownership Karas sold his share in the restaurant to Herman, in 2009.  Then in summer of 2010 Karas opened up Salt & Pepper Savory Grill & Pub at 11539 E. Lakewood Blvd in Holland.  Of course Karas declined to provide any details on why he sold his ownership in Crazy Horse, and he had the following quote from the mlive article on his new restaurant “I think he wishes me well.  I wish him well” regarding Herman.  It is not hard to read between the lines and assume that there might be some bad blood there, either that or someone is taking the high road.  Not surprisingly Karas got right back into restaurant business by opening up his new place just about a mile away on the same street as Crazy Horse.

Case 3: Holland Transplanter & Mechanical Transplanter

Yes this is the second time I have mentioned these companies in my blog, and yes I am just as surprised as you are.  Both these companies produce transplanting equipment for the agriculture industry are both are located in Holland.  Holland Transplanter was founded in 1927 and Mechanical was founded in 1953.  From what I gathered, the current owner, and descendant of one of the founders of Holland Transplanter, has a brother-in-law who runs Mechanical Transplanter.  Those family get togethers must be quite interesting.  This is almost as bad as it can get.  Not only is the company a direct competitor, but they are in the same city, and they are in your family as well.

Case 4:  Wild Dog Rescue and Wishbone Pet Rescue

Alright  I am having a hard time nailing this one down, but here is what I know (I did get an update from Chuck who is involved with Wild Dog- see comments below).  Laine Mossey founders set up the Dog Rescue operation in Saugatuck and also ran a dog shop in the area.  The original name was Wild Dog Rescue, which was later changed to Wishbone Pet Rescue.  The Wishbone Pet Rescue was involved in the very unfortunate Chance story.  The dog was savagely beaten, poisoned, and hung to die, fortunately the dog survived and was left in the care of Wishbone.  At some point during this process Laine (the president) brought on a board of directors to help out with the pet rescue portion of the business.  But apparently there was a difference in philosophy between the president, who wanted to solely rescue pets and the board, who wanted to help the Allegan County Animal shelter.   Now there are two Dog Rescue organizations in Saugatuck area, Wild Dog Rescue (which also runs the Wild Dogs store, and a kennel called Mossey Hollow) and Wishbone Pet Rescue.
One more side note I found this website – http://wilddogsaugatuck.com/ which looks like it was started by the owner Wild Dog, the rescue and pet store, and their issue with the Douglas restaurant called Wild Dog Grille.  Though I think they can choose to name their restaurant the same name, since they are not in the same industry, but it still smacks of poor taste to take on the same name especially in a small community like Saugatuck/Douglas.

Case 5:  Gary Crane UPick Farm & Cranes Orchards

Drive down M-89 in Fennville and inevitably you will come across a stretch of road with orchards on both sides of the road, and with signs on both sides talking about Crane’s U Pick Orchards.  Well although they share the same name (kind of) they are not the same.  In fact ask anyone working at either place and they will definitely tell you they are not associated with the other.  I wonder what happened.  First here are the players – The Gary Crane U-Pick Farm or “Crane’s U-Pick”at 6017 124th Ave is on the North side of the street, and can be recognized with their large white barn.  Cranes Orchards is located on the South side of the street at 6054 124th Ave, is highlighted by the large red Crane’s restaurant.  Interestingly enough both Gary Crane UPick and Crane Orchards offer a detailed history of the family and the two farms.  Here is Gary Crane UPick version and here is Crane Orchards version.  I am not going to dig into this one too much because it hurts my head but it looks like the grandsons of the original founders, ended up going out on their own and operating their own farms in 1985.

Special Case: Adidas & Puma

Some of these stories are eerily similar to the Puma and Adidas story.  The Dassler brothers (Adi and Rudolf) who founded the original company, eventually split up and created separate companies in Puma and Adidas.  Now both companies are located in the same small German village of Herzogenaurach.  Raise your hand if you knew that Puma and Adidas were founded by two brothers, and if you did, let me know and next time I see you, I owe you a high five.

Apparently these individuals were not too please at having to go to bed with their partners.  Does anyone have any more examples of schisms with business partners?  At risk of sounding very tabloid-esque or gossipy… does anyone have any details on what caused these above splits?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Holland Hospital – Thanks for the Beer Koozie

My daughter’s preschool visited Holland Hospital yesterday for a field trip.  When I began talking to my daughter about her visit, she interrupts me and shows me the following item, that she received from Holland Hospital after her visit.

Baffled, I examined the product and it was a spongy type mousepad feeling thing with two parallel metal snap bracelets embedded inside. I asked her what is it, and she responds “The man at the hospital says that this is our superhero bracelet.”  Really, wrist-band was the last thing I thought of, but the first thing I thought of was automatic Beer Koozie with snap action.

Looks much better on a can than on a wrist, doesn’t it?

Promotional items are so hit or miss, as a company you want to make sure your promotional items will be used (and not by the recipient’s children) or remain on someone’s desk, and not in a garbage can.  It is important to know your customers, and have a good sense of what they would use what they would not use.  Take some time, and think of things you would use and not throw away if given a promotion item, and also think of items that would support your brand, industry, or product.

So I am not quite sure what Holland Hospital was trying to do with their Mousepad/Snap Bracelet/Beer Koozie.  Any thoughts? did I miss any more possible applications for this product?

Grade F in Marketing – Portage Printing

Portage Printing adLook at this ad for Portage Printing, that was in a recent issue of MiBiz.  Anyone get it?  Let me take a stab.  As person who enjoys beer, I am familiar with a type of beer called Porter and that word is somewhat similar to Portage.  Yes I know it is a stretch, plus the beer in the ad looks like an amber ale anyways.  Also whats up with the  catapult type machine in the beer (I was informed that it is a printing press).  But who would want to use a printing press half submerged in beer?

“Your business cards should look better than theirs”, no word on how this Portage Printing ad fits in that statement.

Graces

Not the actual sign or building

Not the actual sign or building

A few years back, I had come across a story about a bar in downtown Grand Rapids named Graces. You may think that the only unusual thing about this story would be the bar’s name, but there is a good reason for that, it was a religious-themed bar. Unfortunately the original story is no longer available through the Grand Rapids Press (RobKirkbride . “Would-be bar owners plan to pour out the spirit of religion.” The Grand Rapids Press. December 10, 2002), but some remnants can still be found around the web here and here.

According to the story, former reverend, Peter Winkle teamed up with Renee Visser, a downtown business owner, to form Graces. They wanted an alternative venue for getting the message out…meaning promoting Christianity to its patrons. The bar staff were actually clergymen as well. But Winkle and Visser were not planning on forcefully pushing religion on the patrons as evidenced by this quote:  “There won’t be Bibles on the tables and the clergy won’t be wearing robes or collars, but I do envision loud music and people having fun.”

Now since this bar is no longer around and I have never seen it, I let my imagination run wild with what I think the bar was like. The possibilities are great – maybe it was based on the Old Testament exclusively, with giant murals on the walls of all the cool stories, and they would serve manna to patrons. Perhaps the bar was more focused on Jesus (most likely).  If that was the case then they would have a wide selection of breads and fish dishes to chose from, and overheard frequently would be “We need to split the bread and fish, we got more customers coming in.” The tables would seat 13,  all drinks were served out of goblets, and unconsecrated host wafers were offered as a snack at each table.

Another interesting aspect of this story is that through some sort of loophole Graces was able to get their liquor license for free from the City of Grand Rapids.  Once again  this story is no longer available but I do recall reading about the unusual way Graces obtained the license (one of the links references it as well). From what I could tell, obtaining liquor licenses can be quite the arduous task, and costly.  It is amazing that Graces got one for free. It may be a different story now because of all the restaurants shutting their doors, so there may be an influx of available licenses.

What I want more information about this place. I want to know what a religious-themed bar like Graces is like.  Has anyone ever visited this establishment?  Does anyone have links or copies of the original news story? What about more information on the unique way they obtained their liquor license? Any information you have would be greatly appreciated. Oh and the best part is I know there are some of you out there reading this blog, so be sure to read, comment and offer suggestions. Thanks.

West Michigan Business Publications

Where do you get your business news from? Luckily for our region there are a lot of sources out there. Below is a list with some hyperlinks and some notes of mine. Also keep in mind that these are great venues for getting news about your company out. This way you can save money by not using a PR wire and can specifically target the West Michigan region effectively. Enjoy!

MiBiz

Weekly Publication
Can get a free print subscription if you have a fancy title (middle to upper management) . Unfortunately, I do not so I just read the online version. You can also register online to view their archives free of charge.  They also have a pretty easy way to submit press releases

 

Business Update

Monthly publication
Website is a bit difficult to navigate but luckily they do offer PDF of the past 12 issues free of charge (http://www.businessupdate.com/publications.php)
Also have an issue submission process for your press releases
In my experience they will usually give you at least a small mention

 

Grand Rapids Business Journal

Weekly Publication
Main articles on homepage and “Change Ups” available to read, but everything else requires a subscription
Press Release can be sent to their editorial department editorial@grbj.com

 

West Michigan Business Review

Weekly printed publication who has their online version available through mlive.com
Contact information for Press Release submission and subscription information

This is the one magazine I actually do get.
“Business Briefcase” is their new hires, news updates section available in the print edition
RSS Feed available

 

Grand Rapids Press

Daily paper
Editorial contacts
, best bet email press releases to some of the business editors
Also has a “Names and Faces in Business” section
RSS Feed available

 

Rapid Growth

Weekly email sent out
Great source of news, pulls information from various sources and provides a few in-depth stories from their reporters and the rest of excerpts with a link to the full news story
Editorial contacts

RSS Feed available

 

Holland Sentinel

Daily publication
Seems to handle only local companies, also has BizBuzz section for submitting personal changes or new business openings, etc. BizBuzz
Editorial contacts

 

Grand Haven Tribune

Business section seems to be AP news
Editorial contacts

 

Muskegon Chronicle

Part of the mlive umbrella
Editorial contacts

 

Kalamazoo Gazette

Part of the mlive umbrella
Business section
, Editorial contacts

My favorite section Kalamabrew blog

If you have any other favorite business publications, or know of editor contacts please post below. Additionally, anyone been featured in the New Position or New Company Hire sections in any of these publications? How did you feel about it? Everyone wants to be valued by their company, and this is one way for your company to say “yes we are happy to have hired you.” Plus as a nice little ego boost for yourself, because you just know that those other hiring managers who passed you over are definitely reading those section.