David Ringler is hoping for good news this Friday.
The owner of Cedar Springs Brewing Company, and the long-awaited Küsterer Brauhaus at 642 Bridge St. NW on Grand Rapids’ West Side, said the new beer hall has been “good to go since March,” but the endeavor is being held up by some proverbial red tape.
Plans to open the brauhaus (German for brew house) in 2020 were delayed by supply chain issues and forced shutdowns of construction that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, Ringler said the building is ready, the liquor license has been obtained, and the health department has approved the site.
“The structure is good, our HVAC is in order, and we are handicap accessible. I’ve even talked to the fire guy,” said the Michigan native who spent several years living in Bavaria, which inspired him to recreate the German beer hall experience in West Michigan.
Ringler described a Munich-style beer drinking establishment with long tables and bench seating that fosters conversation with strangers.
“The idea of a beer hall is to bring people together,” he said. “We found that in Cedar Springs, there were people who lived in the town their whole life and didn’t know one another before we opened up our brewery. We hope to create the same atmosphere with the brauhaus.”
The brauhaus is named for Christoph Küsterer, the first German brew master in Grand Rapids, who immigrated from Germany in 1844 and started a brewery near a church he attended, Immanuel Lutheran on Michigan Street. Now, a building bearing his name is opening its doors just down the road, in an area once home to a slew of working-class German immigrants and where beer halls were not uncommon.
“We wanted to pay homage to Küsterer’s heritage,” Ringler said, “and to bring together Cedar Springs’ shared German heritage in West Michigan to pay tribute to the man who brought some of the first old-world German beer to the area.”
Cedar Springs Brewery brews and serves award-winning beers, some with 200-, 400- and even 600-year-old recipes.
The beers on tap at the brauhaus will be similar to those offered at the Cedar Springs Brewing Company, but the food menu will be different. In keeping with the tradition of a typical Bavarian beer house, the idea is to encourage conversation, with finger foods, small sandwiches and “whatever’s fresh,” Ringler said.
There will be six to eight rotating menu items daily.
“It’s not necessarily a place to go to have a big meal,” Ringler said.
Since Cedar Springs also is a distillery and a wine-maker, there will be plenty of other beverages to choose.
“Once we have our occupancy permit, we are pushing as hard as we can to get open as quickly as we can. I hope it’s next week,” Ringler said.