After finding out a brewery in California already has the name King’s Brewery, Terry Rostic and Jamaal Ewing launched a contest to rename their soon to open Grand Rapids brewery.
The pair received 230 entries, six of which were for Boston Square.
“There were some very creative entries and, ultimately, after plenty of contemplation and due process, we selected Boston Square Brewing,” Rostic said.
He added, “I grew up in that neighborhood of 49507, so it’s like a homecoming for me.”
The next step for the brewery is to land a location. Rostic and Ewing are exploring possible sites.
Rostic and Ewing launched the brewery after entering the “100 Ideas” competition created by Start Garden, a local startup support organization and business incubator. The partners were one of 10 “Demo Day” winners of the competition, earning them $20,000 cash and other resources, allowing them to move ahead in their endeavor to become the first African American owned brewery in the state.
Rostic said he was disheartened when Forbes ranked Grand Rapids among the worst cities for African Americans economically in 2015. “I’m Grand Rapids through and through, this is my city,” Rostic said. “I wasn’t offended, I was disheartened.”
His wheels were spinning to help change that perception and reality. With a business degree from Cornerstone University and an M.B.A. from Davenport University, Rostic helped first-generation minority male college students succeed with Alpha League, a program he founded while working at Davenport.
He realized beer might be a good place to practice his entrepreneurial skills. He’s fallen in love with beer, spending lots of time at Brewery Vivant and since his project was announced has seen a great outpouring of support and information from other Grand Rapids breweries.
“These people are like [Michael] Jordan to me, doing it at such a high level,” Rostic said. “Everyone is just willing to do whatever they can to support you.”
Nationally, diversity, or lack thereof, is currently at the center of many conversations surrounding the brewing industry. Rostic said that’s not necessarily the fault of the industry.
“There just isn’t a lot and it’s crazy,” Rostic said of diversity in breweries. “It’s not the industries fault, I don’t think it’s purposefully keeping diversity out. True beer fans want everyone to drink it, they don’t care what you look like or smell like.”
One of the reasons Rostic picked the Boston Square location is because it’s in a high percentage African American neighborhood, and where Rostic grew up so his “heart is there.” He also noted how close it is to a variety of Grand Rapids neighborhoods like Ottawa Hills and Eastown, as well as East Grand Rapids.
Rostic said he believes if his taproom is full of just one race, he’s “failed.”
While Rostic said the neighborhood’s businesses have disintegrated a bit over the years and he hopes to help revitalize it.
Along with hoping to attract other businesses back to the area, he hopes to foster more entrepreneurial or brewing minds. One of his major goals for the brewery is to put a student through the Grand Rapids Community College brewing program every year.
“There’s a lot of life in those neighborhoods and the opportunity a brewery can present is a lot,” he said. “We want to open it up, give the community and neighborhood a gathering place. I want to see all different races together, incomes, people striving to survive and do good, having a good beer a conversating.”
*Photos courtesy of Boston Square Brewing