Michigan beers, ciders, wines take flight at planned West Side restaurant, The Black Heron

Michigan beer, cider, wine, and spirits devotees Seth and Laura Porter have two dreams they're bringing together: setting their beloved Michigan-made libations before a wide audience, and being a vital part of the rebirth of Grand Rapids' West Side.

Their solution is the planned opening of Black Heron Kitchen & Bar, a pub and limited-menu restaurant now under construction at 428 Bridge St. NW, which will build upon the couple's Michigan libation expertise as creators and writers of Michigan Beer Blog, their love of Canadian Poutine, and Laura's Polish heritage.

"We're really proud of the relationships we've made with Michigan brewers, cider makers, and wine makers," Seth Porter says. "We want our beer list to be as exclusive as it can be. We want to be known for our selection of Michigan ciders and Michigan beer. We also want to do house-ground sausages. Laura has Polish heritage, so we want to have Polish-style sausages, German sausages, and a chorizo, and we want to do Poutine."

Laura adds, "The traditional Canadian style is with crispy fries, cheese curds, and brown gravy. We'll be adding things like a coddled egg, bacon, and chives."

The building's storefront windows overlook both Bridge and Summer streets, framing the former automobile showroom with huge windows. Under layers of flooring, the Porters found the original terrazzo floors they will refurbish. Above three layers of dropped ceilings, they discovered arched beams just waiting for their beauty to be uncovered.

But also inside are myriad small rooms from the former physical therapy business that recently occupied the 4,000-square-foot space. The walls will come down this week with Laura's help. She quit her job as a dental hygienist May 1 to devote her time to the demolition.

Both Porters worked stints in the restaurant business to learn how to run a restaurant: Seth as a line cook at HopCat and Laura as a server at Rockford Brewing Company.

Black Heron Kitchen & Bar should open sometime in November.

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Black Heron Kitchen & Bar
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