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Reality in Grand Rapids' Eastown inspires fun times with music festival/circus-style novelty product

It's billed as a "festival shop," a collection of novelty products, clothing, and accessories where people who frequent music festivals can find any type of garb, headgear, and glow-in-the-dark accessories for concerts or music festivals. But to pin it down to just one genre of fun-inspired products? Impossible.
 
Reality, a festival/circus/hula hoop/bonsai/camping store, will open in Eastown's Kingsley Building (1423 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids) on June 22, the same day as that business district's popular Bizarre Bazaar.
 
Owners Kaylyn Gole, 23, and Casey Connolly, 22, solidified their plans to open a one-of-a-kind shop after several months traveling the U.S. in their van in 2012. The impromptu trip was how the couple cleared their heads and got a grip on their future after being attacked by three men at their former Wyoming, Mich. home.
 
"I've always been optimistic and expect the best out of life," Gole says. "We've helped each other evolve into the idea of 'let's do something that we really enjoy and are passionate about.' We were discussing these dreams with Dr. Robert Chatfield and he tossed it out on the table that he'd like to help."
 
Gole says Chatfield offered to invest in the business, and she and Connolly got to work creating the opportunity to open the shop. 
 
The shop offers a plethora of products for clientele interested in the entertaining and lively kinesthetic arts -- products like metallic and LED hula-hoops, diabolos, and fire-eating props. The store will also offer camping gear, water bottles, all manner of light-up accessories, clothing, incense, oils, 3-D tapestries, candles, jewelry making accessories – the list goes on.
 
Gole says the store is working on partnerships with local businesses and entertainers. Connolly's interest in bonsai connected him with GrowCo and an opportunity to offer bonsai plants and kits at Reality. A proposed partnership with the entertainers of Bangarang Circus is underway.
 
The couple has plans to engage so many people in hula-hooping for health that Grand Rapids will become the first Hoop City USA.
 
Source: Kaylyn Gole, Reality
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

LINC looks to new art gallery to attract patrons, enliven economy in Grand Rapids' Madison Square

A new art gallery in a once-vacant and dilapidated storefront could be a catalyst for generating new interest and economic growth in a Grand Rapids neighborhood that's experiencing an economic rebirth.
 
LINC Community Revitalization, a nonprofit responsible for the investment of tens of millions of redevelopment dollars in the Madison Square Neighborhood, will have a ribbon cutting event Thurs., June 13 at 341 Hall St. SE, the site of the new LINC Gallery at 341 Hall. The new gallery is a $400,000 rehabilitation of a foreclosed building that was once an auto detail shop.
 
"In many metropolitan areas, they're using art as an economic engine," says Jorge Gonzalez, LINC economic development director. "Heartside is a perfect example with Avenue for the Arts and ArtPrize. LINC Gallery at 341 Hall will bring people to Madison Square Neighborhood that wouldn't normally come here. They'll be checking out the restaurants and the neighborhood, and will help generate some income for the artists. Because people will start coming to this art gallery, we might be able to open up another restaurant or even another art gallery, which in turn creates more jobs."
 
The one-story building was gutted and rebuilt with new HVAC, lighting, earth tone-colored floors, a black ceiling, and curved walls to add visual interest for art displays. Glass garage doors open the front of the building to the street and the storefront windows overlook the busy neighborhood.
 
Gonzalez says the gallery will not have art displayed for the ribbon cutting so guests can see the renovation up close and artists can envision how they might use the space. He adds that LINC is working with several area artists to establish a rotating schedule of artists over the coming months.
 
The gallery will also be available as a community gathering space for meetings and events, and will host LINC's Community Spirit Awards immediately following the 11:30 a.m. ribbon cutting.
 
Source: Jorge Gonzalez, LINC Community Revitalization; Tyler Lecceadone, SeyferthPR
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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New $25M hotel planned for Grand Rapids' Medical Mile clears another hurdle on way to reality

A new $25 million hotel proposed for Grand Rapids' Medical Mile has received approval from the City of Grand Rapids Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, clearing another hurdle for the project.

Third Coast Development Partners owners Dave Levitt and Brad Rosely plan to erect the 140-plus-room hotel in what is now a surface parking lot adjacent to the Women's Health Center of West Michigan, part of the 16-acre Mid Towne Village (500 block, Michigan St.) developed by Third Coast Development Partners. The five-story hotel will sit atop a two-story parking structure that will be available for public use.

The hotel brand has not been determined yet, Rosely says.

The entire project includes a separate three-story, $6 million office building on the property. The proposed hotel and office building will bring the investment on the entire land parcel to some $70 million since development began in 2004.

"Our (hotel) clientele is not downtown convention traffic, but hospital users, like patients getting outpatient procedures or relatives coming into town to see new babies," Rosely says. "There will be a shuttle service to the hospitals, and will have a real nice feel to it like at Cleveland Clinic or Mayo Clinic."

El Barrio Mexican Grill and The Omelette Shoppe, are both part of the mixed-use complex, while Urban Mill Café and Mr. Pizza are each just a short walk. Both Levitt and Rosely say the restaurants will benefit from the increased density created by the office building and the hotel.

Next steps are for the state to approve the brownfield tax credits, which should happen about August 1, with the hotel groundbreaking a few weeks after that. The hotel construction will take about a year. The office building construction will wrap up in early 2015.

Source: Dave Levitt and Brad Rosely, Third Coast Development Partners
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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Pets get top dog treatment at new cat and dog grooming salon in Grand Rapids' Uptown

A new pet grooming salon in Grand Rapids gives its clients top dog treatment, even if they're not dogs.

Cats Vs Dogs Pet Grooming Salon and Boutique
opened in April at 929 E. Fulton St., a century-old building that's been beautifully preserved and updated. Original hardwood floors and period chandeliers create just the right setting for the care and grooming of dogs and cats, says owner and certified groomer Jennifer Lotterman.

Lotterman opened the storefront after 20 years of providing feline and canine grooming services at retail stores and in her home. During that time, she was also a grooming instructor for seven years.

Lotterman says she's the only Michigan groomer certified through the National Cat Groomers Institute of America. She's also certified through the International Society of Canine Cosmetologists and has special training as a dermatox specialist to detect and identify skin and coat diseases.

"Opening the store is something I've always wanted to do," Lotterman says. "I taught pet grooming at Paragon School of Pet Grooming, and my students would talk about opening a salon. So I went to GROW (Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women) and took one of their business classes to get some information for my students. The more I got into it, the more I realized I want to do this for myself."

Cats Vs Dogs offers a number of services, including pet bathing – Lotterman says cats aren't as hard to bathe as people think – with shampoos suited for the pet's particular skin condition, a skin conditioning treatment, nail trim, ear cleaning, expression of anal glands, and haircuts that might include hand scissoring and/or hand stripping.

Lotterman also offers color enhancing for pets' coats. Her own pooch, Stiles, a standard-bred white poodle, is often an eye-catching shade of blue. Color-enhanced pets could be part of a human fashion show Lotterman hopes to have this summer in the East Fulton business district.

Hours: Tues. - Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Source: Jennifer Lotterman, Cats Vs Dogs Pet Grooming Salon and Boutique
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids hair, makeup artists take wedding day services to brides, bridesmaids on location

Two Grand Rapids hair and makeup artists have hit the road with their specialty bridal and wedding party services, taking their hair styling and makeup expertise directly to the bride on her special day.

Davina Bryan and Sarah Mattone, owners of Pomp & Artistry (1451 Front St. NW), operate a small and cozy salon offering traditional in-salon services. But the two recognized a gap in services for brides and wedding parties who would prefer not to add travel time to an already-busy wedding day.

"There's a huge gap between the everyday artists and the artists of the event industry," Bryan says. "We do things knowing that you'll be looking at these memories 10 years down the road. We create looks that are meant to reflect well for the camera; we prepare you for the camera.

"We've been specializing in bridal hair and makeup for five years, and have a combined 20 to 25 years in the salon industry, but we really decided to refine our skills as bridal artists and add a specialty on-location service."

On-location services include hair styling, traditional and airbrush makeup application, and express manicures and pedicures. In-salon options run the gamut of services, including full manis and pedis, haircuts, and color.

Bryan says both the salon services and the on-location services are available for bridal showers or bachelorette parties. Brides and bridesmaids can rent the salon for a private party with catering, hair services, nail services, and makeup before heading out for a night on the town to celebrate the upcoming nuptials. Or Bryan and Mattone will take the on-location services to them at the event location.

For more information, visit the website here.

Source: Davina Bryan, Pomp & Artistry; Susie Gordon, Marketing Matters
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids' historic Harris Building makeover makes room for The Local Epicurean

The 110-year-old Harris Building in the historic Heartside Business District is built atop an underground river that has made its presence known at times throughout the building's history. The challenges presented by groundwater rising up from below and years of rainwater pouring in through a dilapidated roof above didn't deter the renovation efforts.

The ground floor of the Harris Building (111 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids) will soon be the new home of The Local Epicurean, a local organic pasta company that will have a retail shop, restaurant space, and a teaching kitchen. The renovation will be completed by late spring, and the building will be a 2013 ArtPrize venue.

Wolverine Building Group's Project Manager Dulane Coval says the underground river has not eroded the foundation of the building due to the foresight of the builders a century ago.

"When they built this building, they knew about the river, so the footings are really deep," Coval says. "We haven't even found how deep they are. We had groundwater two feet below the lower-level floor and we had to put the elevator shaft in at six feet below, but we never found the bottom of the foundations. I suspect they're great big old limestone, but I don't know."

Building owner Bob Dykstra of Harris Lofts has floated a number of ideas about what to do with the building, including development of a co-working office space. To-date, no additional plans for the upper floors have been announced.
In addition to conquering the water issues, the building, which has been empty for three to five years, now has an open stairway to the lower level, new HVAC, new roof, and it's first-ever fire protection system.

"The whole area is in a state of transition right now...The building next door (101 South Division) was renovated about three years ago, and there's new housing going in down the street on the corner of Cherry Street," Coval says. 

Wolverine Building Group has headed up construction of both of those projects, plus the development of housing at Division Park Avenue (209 S. Division Ave.) and Serrano Lofts (17 Williams St.).

Source: Dulane Coval, Wolverine Building Group
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Ballroom at McKay opens as majestic event space, more changes for historic Grand Rapids' McKay Tower

Soaring ceilings, original granite walls, crystal chandeliers, and nearly a dozen original marble columns adorn the Ballroom at McKay, a former bank lobby of the old Grand Rapids National Bank, now a majestic celebration space in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.

The Ballroom at McKay, 10,500-square-feet of event space and commercial kitchen, is on the second floor of the 15-story McKay Tower (146 Monroe Center Ave. NW). The ballroom opened last week with an invitation-only reception showcasing the cuisine of each of the ballroom's preferred caterers: The Catering Company, Applause Catering, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Martha's Vineyard, and The Gilmore Collection.

The ballroom accommodates 200 seated guests or 250 non-seated guests. Amenities include full catering services from any of the five caterers, bar services, tables, chairs, and linens. Windows overlook Rosa Parks Circle to the south, and the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel to the northwest. The former vault is a wine cooler; the original deposit slip table sits in the entryway.

The space has four wedding receptions booked, to-date.

"When we purchased the building and saw the space, it was so magnificent and so grand we felt strongly that we wanted to open it and reuse it," says Chaundra Derks, director of operations for Steadfast Property Holdings, which owns the building. "We hope that people will fall in love with it as much as we did. It's such a huge part of Grand Rapids from when it was built back in 1915."

Owen-Ames-Kimball handled the renovation, a fitting project for the company that constructed the original two-story structure in 1915, plus 12 more stories in 1925. The building is significant in that it was constructed in the heart of the city for Grand Rapids' first national financial institution.

Other renovations taking place at McKay Tower include the construction of four luxury apartments on the 15th floor that will be available for short- or long-term lease, the installation of four state-of-the-art Destination Dispatch elevators, and repair of the building's historic façade.

For more information or to book an appointment to see the ballroom facilities, click here.

Source: Chaundra Derks, Steadfast Property Holdings; Craig Clark, Clark Communications
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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More food, more books, more student gathering space in the works for GVSU's Allendale campus

Grand Valley State University's Kirkhof Center is crazy busy any time of day, especially at lunchtime when the cafeteria, coffee shop kiosk, gathering spaces, and bookstore are jam-packed with high-energy students all trying to get a bite or a beverage, sit down with friends, and get online.

GVSU plans to free up a bunch of space for more food services and enough additional seating in the gathering spaces to accommodate150 more students. To accomplish this, the bookstore will relocate in the summer of 2015 to Laker Marketplace, a new 43,000-square-foot building that will be constructed nearby.

"The Kirkhof Center is too small and has resulted in the university operating an offsite staging facility with a shuttle to replenish bookstore merchandise," says James Moyer, associate VP for facilities planning. "The (new) larger bookstore will also address the crowding issues associated with book purchasing and other merchandise."

The $9 million project begins this fall.

Another project, the 22,000-square-foot, $6.7 million addition to Au Sable Hall, will wrap up in summer 2014 after adding several office spaces and nine state-of-the-art classrooms with seating for 190 students. The new classrooms replace some existing small classrooms in the building. Other existing classrooms will receive significant upgrades to technology and the learning environment.

An article posted on Feb. 8, 2013 in GVnow states that the international program ELS Language Center, currently off campus on 48th St., will occupy part of the new addition. The center enables foreign-born students to learn English while attending college. The on-campus relocation supports GVSU's strategic plan for inclusion and internationalization by enhancing the cultural diversity of the student body.

Source: James Moyer and GVnow, Grand Valley State University
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Longtime Holland meat market embraces change -- a new home in Grand Rapids' Downtown Market

Montello Meat Market has been a Holland staple since the '50s, first as Montello Park IGA in one location, a move to another part of town in the '80s (746 Michigan Ave.), and a name change. And, holding true to its history of change amid the constancy of supplying top-notch meats to customers, the market is ready for a new pasture: the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids.

The Downtown Market (435 Ionia Ave. SW) hopes to be the region's go-to center for everything food, from fresh veggies at the outdoor farmers market to baked goods, coffee, site-made ice creams, and now, a local butchery. But Montello Meat Market owners Tony and Tina Larson are not pulling out of their beloved Holland community entirely.

"We're creating Montello Meat Locker, a meat market on wheels, instead of having the (Holland) store," says Tina Larson. "People still call in their orders; they want a tenderloin roast for Friday night, or lamb chops for a family dinner. We'll continue to offer freezer bundles for people who don't have big deep freezers."

The Larsons haven't ironed out all the details on deliveries or pickup locations, but will have those figured out soon, Larson says.

Tony and Tina have owned the meat market for 10 years and each of their four children -- Alex, Sam, Hayley, and Grace -- now young adults, have worked, or still work, at the store. Sam, 25, will be the market's executive butcher; Dad Tony will still make the market's 24 types of brats and sausages from scratch, including Tony's Original Brats, Cherry Pecan, Belgian Country Sausages from a recipe from Belgium, English Breakfast Sausage from a recipe of a butcher shop in England, two chicken sausage recipes, and lamb sausage.

The Downtown Market will become Montello's primary butchery, with 1,900-square-feet of cutting, aging, mixing, and packaging space and a 24-foot-long meat counter. The beef, all from Michigan farms and hormone-free, will be dry-aged on site in coolers with large windows. The store will also sell frozen meats, plus homemade meat loaf, ham loaf, and pea soup.

The Market Hall in the Downtown Market opens in August.

Source: Tina Larson, Montello Meat Market
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids Downtown Market adds some "spice" with popular Saugatuck spice shop

As the list of foodie-oriented vendors in the new Grand Rapids Downtown Market continues to grow -- a bakery, an ice cream maker, a specialty food and wine shop, a coffee shop, a florist, and a butchery -- it seems only natural that a spice shop could bring it all together as a complete one-stop shopping experience.

Spice Merchants
, a corporate and franchise spice seller based in Saugatuck, plans to have hundreds of its bulk spices, proprietary spice blends, and artisanal teas at the market when it opens in August.

"We'll pair well with everything at the market -- vegetables, olive oils, meats, coffee; we'll have fantastic spices and sugars that will go with everything being sold," says owner and founder Lisa Freeman. "Customer can buy large or small quantities. Everything is in a large jar with a label and lid. You tell me what you want, and I measure it into a bag. We sell as little as one-half ounce and more."

Spice Merchants' blends are from Freeman's own recipes, she says, adding that the blends contain no manmade fillers, artificial colors, or chemicals. Freeman says the spices only make one stop between the grower and her stores: the east coast, where the spices are cleaned and processed in a "clean warehouse" that's peanut-free and FDA-approved.

Spice Merchants' top sellers are Smoked Paprika, Hot Smoked Paprika, Black Truffle Sea Salt, Saugatuck Steak Rub (smoked paprika base, Worcestershire, garlic, sea salt, cracked black pepper), Raspberry Chipotle blend, Coffee Barbecue blend, and Tuscan Blend to add to olive oil for dipping bread.

"People can get healthy and fresh products (at the Downtown Market)," Freeman says. "It represents just a great wholesome venue where you can go to get everything. A passion for spices and cooking, that's what got me started. The idea of walking into a store and being able to have all kinds of spices at your fingertips in smaller quantities and more economically appealed to me."
 
Source: Lisa Freeman, Spice Merchants
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Grand Rapids technology startup offers medical practices unique options to improve bottom line

Digital Limelight Media (DLM) doesn't work with just anybody. The Grand Rapids-based technology startup has been in existence for just over a year, working with medical practices to improve the practice's bottom line by determining which advertising method is attracting new patients, where those new patients are coming from, and how much money those patients spend at the practice.

And while DLM could do this for every medical practice that wants to hire them, they don't. DLM says it offers exclusivity to every client in every city, working with only one plastic surgeon, for example, or one family practitioner.
 
"We don't report on first-page rankings, we report on revenue," says company founder and CEO Kyle Peacy, 27. "We don't care who ranks on Google first; we care if they made money and where that money's being made. We measure returns on new business only, not business referred by a friend or a doctor, but patients who found the website and contacted the doctor."

DLM (15 Ionia Ave. SW, Suite 320) operates out of a collaborative workspace that generates an overflow of creative energy among the five people in the company. Peacy and business partner Ryan Rogers, 28; Drew Page, 22, business development; Tyler Rix, 22, graphic design; and Jake Moore, 26, account manager.

While the group's camaraderie is lighthearted, as exemplified by Rix's white board graffiti of a grizzly bear wearing a sunglasses and a necktie, and a he-man panda with a Two Hearted Ale in his fist, it's an integral part of the serious business of keeping the energy flowing for clients.

DLM offers the whole media package: website development, search engine optimization, email marketing, reputation management, and social media management.

But lead management is the company's bread and butter; when a lead comes in through the client's website, it generates a call to the medical office, which prompts the office to contact the potential new patient within five minutes of them hitting "Send." That, says Peacy, leads to setting appointments, which leads to getting new patients into a client's office.

Source: Digital Limelight Media
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Opening day of Grand Rapids' Downtown Market welcomed 8,000 - 10,000 visitors

On Saturday, May 4, the new $30 million Downtown Market opened its 80-stall outdoor vendors area for the first time, welcoming an estimated 8,000 – 10,000 visitors, says market spokesperson Brian Burch.

The outdoor vending area is part of the larger Downtown Market (435 Ionia Ave. SW), which will offer restaurants, pubs, a coffee shop, bakeries, food boutiques, culinary kitchens, greenhouses, and more when it opens later this year. The market, whose focus is on locally produced foods, will also offer a culinary classroom and other educational endeavors.

Pots and hanging baskets of brightly colored flowers dotted the market where vendors like Visser Farms offered them for sale. Crane Dance Farms offered their grass-fed beef products, other farmers and growers had tables filled with potted herbs and tomato plants ready for planting. Gammy's Artisan Pies offered deep-dish fruit and savory pies.

Simpatico Coffee, which will have a shop in the indoor Market Hall, offered samples of freshly brewed coffee and tea. Go Nuts filled the air with the smell of fresh mini fried cakes prepared hot on the spot for a long line of customers anxious to try them. Breads, focaccia, and fresh vegetables filled other tables, as well as a variety of jams, jellies, salsas, and dried herb mixes from Frozen Creek Farms.

Non-food offerings included cedar birdhouses and garden ornaments.

One of the most colorful vendors was Ed Dunneback & Girls Farm Market with its eye-catching hot pink John Deere tractor and matching aprons. The Dunnebacks offered samples of donuts, and had several varieties for sale.

The outdoor market will be open Tuesdays and Saturdays, 8 to 1 p.m.; Thursdays, 4 to 7 p.m.

Source: Brian Burch, Downtown Market
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

GVSU's $40M Seidman Center opens with state-of-the-art learning technology, first trading room

On May 6, the long-anticipated $40 million L. William Seidman Center at Grand Valley State University welcomed its first students to its state-of-the-art facility designed specifically for the needs of the university's business students. The 127,643-square-foot Seidman Center (50 Front St., Grand Rapids) offers the Seidman College of Business students and affiliated departments a fresh new perspective on learning, beginning with an electronic tickertape feed in the lobby that displays current stock trading.

The facility offers students a high-tech trading room with nine Bloomberg Training Terminals for accessing near-real-time stock market action, equipment and opportunities the Seidman College didn't have before. The trading room, named The Gary L. Tilken Financial Markets Center, allows students to practice making trades and to conduct research.

The building also offers a student lounge, a quiet study area, and 15 break-out rooms that accommodate five students for small study groups or projects. The break-out rooms are equipped with file-sharing technology and monitors so students can plug in their laptops and work on a shared project.

Students who miss a class equipped with Classroom Capture technology will be able to view the recorded classroom session on their laptops via a split screen that shows both the instructor and a close up of the smartboard.

"(This building) will keep Grand Valley on the cutting edge of business technology," says John Reifel, Seidman College's interim dean. "It will give us one more thing to help attract students. It's another step that keeps us really ahead of the game."

The Seidman College of Business has over 3,000 students.

Source: John Reifel, Seidman College of Business
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Blueberry Haven specialty boutique touts West Michigan blueberries, future blueberry cookbook

Tiffany Balk wanted a uniquely Grand Haven gift for friends. She lived near a 900-acre blueberry farm and wondered why someone hadn't done for blueberries what Cherry Republic had done for cherries.

The search for that one gift lead Balk to create a few blueberry delicacies of her own that she wholesaled to local specialty stores and online. She started selling them at the Grand Haven Farmers Market in 2008, and in 2011 she opened Blueberry Haven (213 Washington Ave., Grand Haven).

Balk buys her blueberries from 40-50 West Michigan growers, plus contracts with area co-packers who make the products based on her recipes. Her products span a variety of tastes, from the delectable Spring Lake "Laker" Jam with pineapple, orange, and lemon, to Blueberry Almond Biscotti. Other delicious treats include Oatmeal Blueberry Cookie Mix, Cinna-Berry Pancake Mix, Blueberry Coffee, and Blueberry Salsa.

"In the back of our store is our sample bar where we have all the jams, chocolates, and sauces so customers can taste them," Balk says. "We ship anywhere. One customer from New Hampshire came in because they got one of our products as a Christmas gift, so they bought more. On the way home, they stayed with friends in Chicago, so when they got back to New Hampshire, they got online and shipped something to their Chicago friends as a thank you."

Balk says that although she offers free recipes in the store and online, customers were constantly requesting a cookbook.

The cookbook doesn't have a name yet or a publication date, but the first draft is finished. Grand Haven-based Splattered Ink Press will publish the book. Along with traditional pies and muffin recipes, the book will feature some unusual dishes, such as, Grilled Lobster Blueberry Salad, Leg of Lamb with Blueberry Relish, Blueberry Jalapeno Cornbread, and Blueberry Mojitos.

Store hours: Mon. - Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Fridays open until 8 p.m. ; Sundays 11 a.m. to 6 p.m..
 
Source: Tiffany Balk, Blueberry Haven
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

New craft brewery and beer brewing supply store on tap for Ada's downtown

It won't be long and Ada will be home to the area's first, and maybe only, craft brewery and brewing supply store mash-up.

Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply (418 Ada Dr., next to Ada Dental Associates) could be open this June, bringing patrons a place to enjoy an expertly crafted brew made onsite and a spot for home brewers to purchase grains, hops, and equipment.  

"The idea is that we wanted to bring brewing closer to people, to have it be an experience so people can be part of the operation as much as possible," says Gravel Bottom's owner Matt Michiels. "You'll walk in, and that's all taproom area with a sit-down bar, and directly behind the bar is the actual brewhouse, just four or five feet away."

Michiels has been home brewing for 14 years, and has been "kicking around the brewery idea" for about five. His goal is to make the brewery a place where people can taste different recipes, talk with each other and with experts employed by the brewery, and then pick up the supplies they'll need to make the beer at home.

Besides equipment and starter kits, the brew store will carry 80 grains, hops, honey from local beekeepers, and other local products. Eventually, the brewery will offer brewing classes onsite, which will use a small brew house in the shop.

The larger brewery is a three-barrel (100 gal.) system with eight three-barrel fermenters and five three-barrel serving vessels, which allows Gravel Bottom to have 15 barrels on tap at any given time, and 24 barrels in active fermentation, says Michiels.

"We want people to be able to come into the store and try a beer, and then say I really like this, or, I wish it had more body, less bitter, more sour," Michiels says. "And then we can tell them that hey, here's the recipe, and here's what you can do to achieve that."

The brewery will not offer a food menu, but Michiels hopes to partner with the half-dozen restaurants nearby for deliveries or catering.

Source: Matt Michiels, Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery & Supply
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

Images by Steph Harding
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