Architecture & Design, Food Service & Agriculture, and Real Estate

West Side restaurant doubling capacity

December 11, 2017
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The Sovengard Grand Rapids
The Søvengård is a Scandinavian-inspired restaurant and beer garden on the West Side. Photo via fb.com

A West Side restaurant that opened in 2016 is planning to double its seating capacity this winter.

The Søvengård in Grand Rapids, at 443 Bridge St. NW, will expand upstairs into the street-level space vacated in November by The Conscious Collective, which was a consignment store.

Walt Gotowski, of Swift Realty, owns the building, and The Søvengård acquired the extra space by adding to its lease.

The Søvengård opened on the lower level of the building in August 2016 with a Scandinavian-inspired menu and an outdoor beer garden.

“We really love our cool little garden-level here, but we’re capped by the physical space we have down here and the biergarten out back,” said Rick Muschiana, owner, The Søvengård. “In the wintertime, we don’t have full use of the biergarten and that brings us down in size.”

Expanding upstairs will add 1,900 square feet to the restaurant’s footprint and allow 70 to 80 extra seats — doubling overall capacity — as well as a second bar and a unisex restroom.

The target opening date for the expansion is mid to late January, depending on city approvals and a required liquor license amendment due to the added bar, Muschiana said.

The restaurant is working with Grand Rapids-based Via Design for architecture and “city planning needs,” and it will do its own build out and interior design, sourcing materials locally.

Changes will include adding a stairway off the back balcony for people to get down to the beer garden, as well as reviving/re-painting the building’s original tin ceiling.

Muschiana said he plans to hire six to eight employees as part of the project.

“We want to espouse the same food, hospitality and beverage program, just on a main street level,” Muschiana said. “Having the really big windows in front and the main street visibility is a big thing for us.”

Muschiana said the expansion, driven by timing and demand, is an “exciting” step.

He added that the restaurant has done "a lot of work" with local farms and suppliers, "whether it be beverages or produce for the kitchen.”

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