KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A sorely missed spot in Kalamazoo will soon have new life.

Arcadia Ales shut down its Michigan Avenue location in 2018 after owing more than a million dollars to the bank, plus $150,000 in taxes. The building was foreclosed on and Arcadia Ales filed for bankruptcy.

Ownership of the property was handed over to Lansing-based management company, Urban Feast, which owns the Grand Woods Lounge in Grand Rapids. Those with the company announced a restaurant, Thunderbird River Lounge, will be the future tenant of the property.

Thunderbird managing partner Dax Hylarides said a lot had to be addressed before seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Thunderbird River Lounge is set to replace the former Arcadia Ales site in Kalamazoo.
Thunderbird River Lounge is set to replace the former Arcadia Ales site in Kalamazoo.

“Over the last three, four years almost, obviously working through COVID, employee problems and staffing problems has been really our biggest hurdle,” Hylarides said.

While the time passed, he added the interest never faded away.

“We always wanted to get in Kalamazoo. So at the time it seemed like a great opportunity. It still does now,” Hylarides said. “Obviously again, we got hit with a surprise in 2020. We’re just getting our feet back under us now.”

As far as the customer experience goes, managers wanted to incorporate their menu with a key feature that the city of Kalamazoo has right on the property.

“We just kind of wanted to be outdoorsy with the landscape. I don’t think you can find anything like this in Michigan, anywhere,” Hylarides said as he looked at the Kalamazoo River. “People coming up here on kayaks, it’s kind of mixed in here with the urban setting with the railroad going by.”

Rob Schiavo, who will serve as Thunderbird’s general manager, said the landscape, menu and ambiance an inseparable combination.

“The space went from being so grand … to almost cozy now, comfortable. That’s what we’re going for here,” Schiavo explained. “You can get a beer. You can have some food. You can go out there and sit by the river. We just want to provide a space for the city, for everybody in the city to enjoy themselves daily.”

With that, all they need are friendly faces to help welcome customers.

Thunderbird River Lounge is set to replace the former Arcadia Ales site in Kalamazoo.
Thunderbird River Lounge is set to replace the former Arcadia Ales site in Kalamazoo.

“We want to pull that open sign really bad. We wanted to open yesterday, but we’ve got to find the help,” he said.

Anyone interested in applying for open positions at Thunderbird can go to tbirdkzoo.com.

Management says they are also planning to utilize the 40,000 square foot warehouse on the property as an event and entertainment venue. But for now, the restaurant is the primary goal.

“The city of Kalamazoo’s been waiting patiently,” Hylarides explained. “We’re just excited to get this portion open and then we’ll focus our attention on that.”