GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two Grand Rapids distilleries are planning on bringing their spirits to the city’s east side.
Long Road Distillers wants to open a tasting room at 959 Cherry Street SE, just west of Diamond Avenue in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood. Long Road Distillers plans to announce the proposed bar’s name next week.
Co-owner Kyle Van Strien said the site checked many boxes for his business, including the nice, walkable community.
“It’s a great neighborhood, we’ve always loved that district. (It has) lots of other businesses that we’re friends with and it’s on the other side of town from where our … (original) location is,” he told News 8 Monday.
Van Strien says construction is “going well.” He expects Long Road Distillers to soon take over the project, building out the bar and adding wall finishings, fixtures and equipment.
Long Road Distillers’ new tasting room would seat about 35 people inside, Van Strien said. The outdoor cocktail space, which would be partially covered by a metal pergola, could accommodate about 45 guests.
The new tasting room would also sell bottled spirits and canned cocktails guests can take home.
Van Strien says the project timeline hinges on licensing. If the project gets all the necessary approvals, he hopes to open the new tasting room within the next three months.
Van Strien is the chair of the Grand Rapids Planning Commission, which will consider Long Road Distillers’ request to open the tasting room during its next meeting Feb. 10. Van Strien plans to present the proposal but says he will recuse himself from voting on the request.
During that same session, Eastern Kille Distillery will pitch its proposal to open a tasting room along the Wealthy Street corridor next to Rowsters Coffee.
The 1,100 square-foot space would be located at 634 Wealthy Street SE, which was previously home to the clothing retailer Premier.
Eastern Kille wants to open an upscale bar to serve up handcrafted cocktails and tasting flights featuring its spirits. The updated space would include booth and table seating for three to four dozen people and a retail area to buy merchandise and bottles of the distillery’s liquor to take home.
Managing member Brandon Vorhees said Eastern Kille would also likely offer cocktail classes and “other small educational events” occasionally throughout the year.
“Eastern Kille is incredibly excited to join this already popular business corridor. We are friends with and supporters of many of the business that already exist here and believe fully we can play a vital role in keeping this corridor popular and successful for the city and surrounding businesses,” Vorhees stated in documents submitted to the planning commission.
Van Strien said Long Road Distillers is “friendly” with Eastern Kille, and he understands why they set their sights on a spot about five blocks away.
“I don’t think of it as competition, it’s just great for the cocktail scene in the city,” Van Strien said.
Eastern Kille expects to hire five employees to staff its new tasting room and Long Road Distillers anticipates adding 10 employees. Both distilleries plan to be open daily.
Eastern Kille’s original tasting room is located within its distillery at 700 Ottawa Ave. NW. Spectrum Health bought the property last year for $3.75 million, city property records show.
Vorhees tells MiBiz that the distillery will continue operating its Monroe North location through this year before moving to a new site in Rockford, which will also have an outdoor cocktail garden.