Food Service & Agriculture, Real Estate, and Retail

Bar travels south for $3M expansion

March 25, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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HopCat in downtown Grand Rapids ranks as one of the top beer bars in both the world and nation. Photo by Adam Bird

A bar chain is entering its fourth state.

The Grand Rapids-based beer bar chain HopCat will open its seventh location later this year in downtown Lexington, Ky., at 410 W. Short St.

The $3-million project is expected to open in August.

“The Square in downtown Lexington is perfect for HopCat, due to its proximity to downtown employers, healthy neighborhoods, universities and cultural attractions, such as the Lexington Opera House,” said Mark Sellers, founder, HopCat. “I believe HopCat Lexington will serve as a hub for craft beer culture and support continued growth of microbreweries in the state.”


The location will have up to 140 beers on tap, including 40 or more from Kentucky at all times.

With seating for about 300 customers, the Lexington bar will create 150 jobs in a space that has been vacant for several years.

Similar to the Grand Rapids location, HopCat Lexington will also have a small brewery.

Sellers had said it was likely the Grand Rapids location would stay the only HopCat with a brewery.

The location

HopCat Lexington will take up two stories within The Square, a multi-story building that takes up nearly an entire city block. 

The building — on the National Register of Historic Buildings — is adjacent to the University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena and the city’s convention center. The Square is also across the street from the Lexington Opera House.

Lexington is an upstart beer town, with breweries such as West Sixth Brewing, Country Boy Brewing, Blue Stallion Brewing Co. and Ethereal Brewing leading the way. West Sixth made national headlines in 2013 in a trademark dispute with national brand Magic Hat.


Five HopCat locations are operating, with two more slated to open this year, including Lexington.

The original opened in Grand Rapids in 2008 and has been named the No. 3 “Beer Bar on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine and No. 1 “Brewpub in the United States” by Draft Magazine and have also named HopCat one of the best beer bars multiple times.

HopCat East Lansing opened in 2013. HopCat Indianapolis and HopCat Detroit opened in 2014, and HopCat Ann Arbor opened earlier this year.

A HopCat will open in Madison, Wis. this summer.

Sellers expects BarFly Ventures, HopCat’s parent company, to make more than $41 million in sales.

BarFly also includes Stella’s Lounge, McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon and Grand Rapids Brewing Co.

Sellers will also open a tiki-themed restaurant this summer called The Shrunken Head. 

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