Driving along 28th Street in Grand Rapids Michigan near I-96 offers the pretty typical view of a main drag off of a major highway lined with malls, service businesses and a full menu of chain motels and restaurants.
It’s a little unusual for us to spend a lot of time along the main roads in a bigger city when we travel, but visiting Grand Rapids for quick getaway that included a family party meant we opted for convenience this trip.
Still, we always look for something a little more local to see or somewhere other than a large national chain—even when we stop for a quick meal.
Grand Rapids Brewing Company looked promising as a place to stop for a quick burger and beer as we drove past the homogeneous malls and fast-food places on the way back to our hotel on a Friday evening.
The present-day Grand Rapids Brewing Company recalls the historic heyday of the original brewery bearing the name. The original Grand Rapids Brewing Company started brewing beer on January 1, 1893 and quickly made a name for itself by becoming the largest producer of beer in western Michigan.
The future looked bright for the brewery as its Silver Foam beer became popular in many areas of the country. However, Michigan voted for Prohibition—the banning of the sale, manufacture and transportation of alcohol for consumption in the United States from 1919 to 1933. The original Grand Rapids Brewing Company sold its last beer on April 27, 1918.
The Grand Rapids-based Schelde chain in Michigan, currently consisting of a handful of Grand Rapids and Traverse City area restaurants, created a modern-day tribute to the original brewery in December of 1993 by opening Grand Rapids Brewing Company on 28th Street.
The restaurant recognizes its figurative forebear with decorations featuring photos from the original brewery and other early 1900s artifacts, some donated by local residents according to the restaurant’s Web site.
The site tells about one notable donation coming from archeologists during a dig at a site used as a training camp for Michigan soldiers during the late 1800s Spanish-American War, where workers unearthed dozens of empty Silver Foam bottles discarded by the soldiers.
The modern Grand Rapids Brewing Company holds the distinction of having the state’s brewpub license number 2, according to the Michigan Beer Guide. The MBG goes so far as to make a case that the Grand Rapids Brewing Company is the state’s first true brewpub as the number one license belongs to Detroit’s Traffic Jam, which actually produced its beer across the street from its restaurant.
The menu at Grand Rapids Brewing Company offers tasty pub fare like burgers, pizza, steaks, ribs and hearty appetizers. Handcrafted beers include the brewery’s signature Centennial Silver Foam, described in the menu as “our link to brewing history”.
Bottom line—Show up thirsty and hungry. Prices are reasonable and food portions seemed huge—especially the olive burger I ordered, which towered on the plate with its cap of two thick onion rings. Our server recommended the Pale Ale Tap, and it complemented my burger perfectly.
© Dominique King 2009