It’s been about two years since Rick Muschiana first started exploring funding options for the restaurant he now calls Sovengard
, and with the exterior of the Midwest-meets-Scandinavia culinary spot nearing completion, Muschiana and his team are gearing up for their Grand Rapids debut — a date that is now just weeks away.
“Even though we’ve been delayed, and it’s taken much longer than we thought it would, there’s always been a silver lining for us with these delays and we’re just trying to roll with the punches,” he says. “I think that we’ve learned a lot of lessons from just our prior experiences working at other restaurants, and we’ve been paying attention to what’s happening around town. The underlying factor to me as an owner and operator is that were not going to open before we’re ready and before it’s time.”
Still finalizing some of the logistics on the paperwork side, Muschiana estimates a mid-August opening date for Sovengard.
Although Sovengard Head Chef Patrick Conrade underwent open heart surgery (a scary time back in February that brought people from throughout Grand Rapids and West Michigan together to support him
), he says he’s feeling in better shape than ever and is excited to work with local producers to craft a menu full of fresh and seasonally specific dishes.
“I feel great, ready to go. I’m stronger than than I’ve ever been,” Conrade says. “We’re looking at a lot of the local produce that’s really strong in the market right now — squashes, tomatoes, blueberries and peaches are coming in. We’re rolling with what’s freshest at it’s peak right now.”
Detail is everything for the design-focused Sovengard brand, with its new home at 443 Bridge St. NW calling for sections of the historic pre-1900s structure in place there to be retrofit with salvaged shipping containers and an outdoor Biergarten.
“As were sitting here in the space at the tail end of completing the inside with about three weeks left of work on the outside until completion, and it’s pretty much what I thought it would be,” Muschiana says. “I can imagine this as being home for the Sovengard. I think, aesthetically, I’m really happy with how it’s turning out…it’s blending a Midwest mindset with a sort of Scandinavian spirit.”
Though Muschiana says he’s most excited to see new patrons soak in the entire Sovengard experience, a lot of what he's talking about relates back to its good design elements — little touches like the bathroom tile work or the authentic 1950s era retro botanical wallpaper that Muschiana says one staff member describes as fitting for “Grandma’s Nordic chalet.”
“The design aspect was important to me and to all of us, we all were a bunch of art kids — myself, Patrick, my brother, whose going to be general manager….We all aspire to be artists. I think that its been such an awesome experience for me because of my background to do this project and have to put on the shoes of an interior designer, industrial designer, an artist, a tile designer and layer; it’s been incredibly wide array from a creative perspective,” says Muschiana, who designed Sovengard's logo and larger branding himself.
“…I think Patrick feels the same way, too, the creative aspect, and the idea that the beauty of things is tantamount to the rest of it because that’s how the experience starts — you eat with your eyes and take in the space with your eyes before the rest even starts,” he says.
To keep an eye out for Sovengard’s official opening date and still-developing menu, visit www.sovengard.com
or visit Sovengard here on Facebook
Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Rick Muschiana/Sovengard
UIX: Rick Muschiana toasts to friends, community, sustainability at the Sovengard