Long Road Distillers will open to the public at 18 Washington Ave. on Thursday, July 18, after soft openings this week, as its staff are trained to make a variety of cocktails and get the kitchen operational.
Owners of the Grand Rapids-based distillery, Kyle Van Strien and Jon O’Connor, have spent months exploring locations for a new venue in Grand Haven. They originally wanted to occupy the train depot building on the city’s waterfront, but were rejected by the City Council. A plan was then in the works to occupy a portion of the Copper Post building, 100 Washington, but the arrangement didn’t come to fruition.
Long Road’s downtown location, formerly the Pavilion Wharf Bar & Grill, gave the distillery more options, Van Strien said, including a full kitchen. Adding finishing touches last week, floor-to-ceiling renovations were near completion in the front of the restaurant, while the kitchen features all new stainless-steel appliances.
Down a hallway at the back of the building, a garage will become a tasting room and retail space, but that won’t open for a few more months. Renovations to the front facade of the building will also be pursued. A short-term rental occupies the second floor of the building.
The front of the building features a sliding glass wall that opens onto an elevated platform that will include 10 stools. The summertime space was approved by the city’s Planning Commission and City Council despite some concerns about the unique elevation of the platform. It will be removed during the winter, the owners said, and will be railed in, making that platform necessary for ADA accessibility from inside the restaurant.
Long Road will seat 36 customers, Van Strien said, and will not feature standing-room only.
The owner described the cocktail offerings as “Michigan tiki, not on-the-nose tiki,” which will include a mix served in a conch shell. Customers can expect a variety of cocktails and food items, while the food menu will likely expand in the offseason.
The new business has already hired 20 employees, and Van Strien expects the staff will total about 25, some of whom will work both in Grand Haven and at the Grand Rapids flagship location. Long Road also has a small tasting room in Boyne City.
“Our whole goal with Long Road is to create a great guest experience, hand in hand with city walkability and a vibrant pedestrian experience,” Van Strien told city leaders last month.
Hours of operation are expected to be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with closings at 9 p.m. Sundays.