GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An LGBTQ+ bar is getting ready to open up on Bridge Street this summer.
The General Wood Shop will be located at 507 Bridge St. near Seward Avenue. The bar doesn’t have an official open date set yet but one of the owners of the bar, Alberto Garza, said the team is looking to open up in mid-July.
Garza said he and his partner wanted to open the bar to offer more options for Grand Rapids’ LGBTQ+ community. He said they’ve heard from several people who want more options in the area.
“There’s definitely a gap in the market, there’s a gap in the need in the community,” Garza said. “…It’s just very important to give us all a home, an additional home.”
While looking for a spot, they wanted to find a busy street that offered a visible location. They eventually landed on Bridge Street, close to the couple’s first home together.
“We’ve seen Bridge Street grow over the years. And it’s just developed and it’s become such a hot spot,” Garza said. “…So we thought, ‘You know what, we deserve a bar in this area so that we can be seen as well.’ Because we are to be seen.”
The bar’s name is a nod to its history. In the 1940s, the space was a used furniture store that was also called the General Wood Shop, Garza explained.
He said the General Wood Shop will be a “modern, cozy bar,” adding it will have the feel of an “elevated dive bar.”
“We want to make it feel nice and laid back,” Garza said. “Like your neighborhood bar. You can order a nice cocktail, but you can also get your standby drinks, just a simple rum and coke, if you want to.”
The bar will offer signature cocktails. They’ve also teamed up with 3 Gatos Brewery in Wyoming for a signature beer, a hazy IPA.
The bar will also offer nonalcoholic options.
Garza and his partner of almost 17 years are still working on the menu for the bar, which will have lots of sharables.
“Right now the first draft is a fusion between Asian and Mexican,” Garza said. “We hired a chef to come up from (the) south to help us out and build out our dream menu.”
He said the menu includes things like a spicy iteration of bao buns, along with staples like fries and desserts.
The bar will have 18 seats at the bar, booths that seat four and accessible tables. It will also have a patio created to feel “like a little outdoor oasis,” Garza said.
The General Wood Shop will host events, like pop-up events for the lesbian community or pop-up events that partner with LGBTQ+ brands.
“You’re going to start seeing something a little different than what we’ve seen in other spaces. A lot of questions that I get are, ‘Are you going to have drag shows?’ And yes, we are going to have that as it is a component of our community, but there is such a wider variety (of events),” Garza said. “… We’re just trying to come up with new, creative ways to keep it fresh and exciting.”
Garza has hired a general manager and they’re currently working to hire their team. They have openings for both front of house and back of house.
“The vibe working here (will be) super laid back. We want to invest in our team. So if you’re someone that needs to break into the industry but doesn’t know where to start, we’re happy to build those people up,” he said.
Those who are interested should email email@example.com.
While they’ve had some hiccups along the way, like the patio needing additional work, Garza said he’s excited to be close to the finish line.
“It’s been such a warm welcome. We appreciate it, we thank everybody for the support. The city of Grand Rapids has been excellent to work with … everybody has just been so kind and just accommodating and honestly we couldn’t have asked for a better experience all around,” he said.
Those interested in hearing more can stop by the General Wood Shop booth at the Grand Rapids Pride Festival. They’ll have T-shirts, stickers, a photo booth and more. Garza said they’re also hoping to raffle off tickets for their soft opening.
“It’s a passion project. It’s a longtime dream come true. So I think just seeing it actually become a reality is what keeps that energy going,” Garza said. “Certainly the response that we’re getting from people in the area has helped a lot, that’s what keeps us going. … So our hope is that this place, once we are finally open, that it delivers on the expectations of the audience.”
The General Wood Shop will be open from 2 p.m. to midnight Sunday through Wednesday, and from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information, visit generalwoodshop.com.