Grand Rapids' new Stella's Lounge to feature 200 whiskeys, vegetarian menu

Deborah Johnson Wood

Beginning May 1, Stella's Lounge will light up the Grand Rapids night with punk and alternative music selections compiled by Herm Baker of Vertigo Music, a vegetarian menu, vintage video games from the 70s and 80s, and whiskey – more than 200 different kinds.

The new bar, 53 Commerce Ave. SW, has what owner Mark Sellers calls an "old school, 70s vibe" and shares an address, a kitchen and restrooms with its sister bar next door, Viceroy, which is still under construction.

Sellers and his wife, Michele, came up with the idea for the bar following a successful run with nearby HopCat, their first foray into the Grand Rapids bar business after living in Chicago and returning to Mark's hometown.

"The bar is handmade by Aaron Heineman of Heineman Bar Company, who made the bar for HopCat and is making the one for Viceroy," Mark Sellers says. "He's a Chicago guy I used to know when I lived down there. The bar will be 40 feet long.

"Stella's is a place I'd go for fun," Sellers adds. "When I open bars I kinda just think about what I would like. I love craft beer so that's what HopCat is all about, and I love the older video games so that's what this bar is about."

The games include pinball, Ms. Pac Man, Frogger, Tron and Centipede. Sellers bought the real thing – used games from eBay, and some from Chattanooga Pinball Co. and Belmont-based Game Room Guys.

The vegetarian menu includes one meat lovers pick: a colossal stuffed hamburger with pepperjack cheese and jalapeno, topped with a specialty hot sauce.

As for drinks, "we're not going to reinvent the wheel," says Garry Boyd, general manager. "As a matter of fact we're going to make it really simple – you'll be able to get drinks for a good price and the draft list will be independently-owned breweries, no Bud, Miller or Coors."

The bar's opening created just under 50 new jobs, including full-time management and chef positions.

Source: Mark Sellers and Garry Boyd, Stella's

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at [email protected] Development News tips can be sent to [email protected]
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