Food Service & Agriculture, Real Estate, and Retail

Bar expands into college town

October 30, 2015
| By Pat Evans |
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Bar expands into college town
HopCat in downtown Grand Rapids ranks as one of the top beer bars in both the world and nation. Photo via

A bar chain is expanding deeper into Big Ten country.

HopCat said yesterday that it will open a location in Lincoln, Neb., keeping in tune with BarFly Venture’s strategy of college towns.

The $2.5 million, 8,500-square-foot project is slated to open next year, fronting the city’s Canopy Street in the 601 P. Street building in the West Haymarket neighborhood. The building is the Olsson Associates headquarters.

“We are thrilled to have a new restaurant and bar concept with a proven track record come to Lincoln and locate in our building,” said Jennifer Brinkma, director of communications, Tetrad Property Group. The group manages the facility.

“The West Haymarket continues to develop, generating opportunity for businesses to locate in our community and create additional activity in the area, creating a truly dynamic district.”

HopCat Lincoln will include 130 taps, the largest selection of on-tap beer in Nebraska.

“Nebraska’s craft beer and brewing scene is taking off, so when the opportunity to open HopCat near Pinnacle Bank Arena and historic Lincoln Station arose, I knew it would be a great fit,” said Mark Sellers, founder, HopCat. “We look forward to working with Nebraska’s innovative craft brewers, along with craft brewers from around the world, to make HopCat a hub for craft beer lovers in the Star City.”

Hiring is ongoing for the management team at the location, with hourly hirings beginning after the New Year.

More than 130 employees are expected at the location.


HopCat was founded in 2008 at 25 Ionia Ave. SW in Grand Rapids.

The bar has been named the “No. 3 Beer Bar on Planet Earth” by BeerAdvocate magazine and “No. 1 Brewpub in the United States” by It is also regularly recognized by DRAFT magazine.

The bar’s french fries, called Crack Fries, were named among America’s “Top 10 French Fries” in Food Network Magazine’s July-August issue.

HopCat also has locations in East Lansing, Ann Arbor and Detroit, as well as Indianapolis, Madison, Wis. and Lexington, Ky.

In September, HopCat received an investment of $25 million from a Texas-based investor to help the bar chain open 30 locations in the next five years. The locations will be focused on Midwest college towns.

Other towns that have been mentioned in conversations with Sellers or other HopCat representatives include Louisville, Ky., Milwaukee, Omaha, Neb., Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio and Cincinnati.

HopCat’s parent company, BarFly Ventures, also owns three Grand Rapids restaurants: Stella’s Lounge, Grand Rapids Brewing Co. and McFadden’s Restaurant & Saloon.

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