GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The company that owns the Big Old Building, better known as the B.O.B., in downtown Grand Rapids has announced that it will open to the public. It is aiming for an opening day of Thursday, Sept. 8.

The popular downtown venue has been closed since late December of last year.

The Gilmore Collection, who owns the B.O.B., says the whole building will be switching to be completely cashless, to “simplify ordering and the user experience,” according to a press release.

It says the layout will be reimagined, with two floors (L3vel and Eve) set to host special events and private dining only. Live music and stand-up comedy will return at Dr. Grins Comedy Club, Bobarino’s and HOME. BOB’s Brewery will expand into the first floor for operations and the Beer Garden on Ottawa and Fulton, the release said.

“We’re optimistic about the restaurant industry, we’ve been able to string together several months without having to worry about closing or restrictions on indoor or outdoor dining,” Matt Dowdy, the director of marketing and creative for Gilmore Collection, told News 8. “Our other brands around West Michigan have been able to get back to business as normal as that looks like these days.”

Food service hours may be limited at first, according to the release. The B.O.B. will be hiring new servers, customer service employees, bartenders, culinary staff and management. People can apply at The Gilmore Collection website.

Dowdy noted that downtown Grand Rapids has started to become busy again.

“From a personal perspective and my day-to-day travels, downtown certainly looks a lot more activated and full of life over the last five to six months and I think my colleagues here would share in the optimism that downtown seems to be making a comeback right now,” he said. “We feel like this is a good time to try to bring the B.O.B. back to downtown because we have the opportunity to do it, we have the motivation to do it. We’re excited about what the future brings in downtown Grand Rapids and we’d certainly like to be a part of it.”

Gerrit Elzinga, who served as the house emcee at Dr. Grins before it closed, said he’ll be back in that same position when the B.O.B. reopens in September. He said he’s excited to see the crowds the venue has drawn in the past.

“We had a big audience of people that were regulars. And comics, they would come in and bring their fans out,” he said.

Since December, Elzinga has been editing reels of his comedy for Facebook and Instagram as well as doing a few shows outside of Grand Rapids. 

Elzinga said he’s heard rumors about the B.O.B. reopening. Those rumors were confirmed to him Wednesday morning when the booking agent for Dr. Grins texted him the link to the announcement.

“As a comic when you stop for a while, you go back, it’s like you’re starting all over again. So I think we’re going transitory period when it starts … so it will be slow going,” he said. “There’s that kind of momentum you have to build up again.”

The building was put up for sale by The Gilmore Collection in November 2020 along with the neighboring 20 Monroe venue. It was listed for $15.5 million, but never sold.

The third and fourth floors are now available for booking.