Søvengård’s reopening inches closer to reality

Sovengard owner Rick Muschiana and Jarrod Dawson of Ten Ring Construction go over design plans for the restaurant's new location, 1232 Bridge St. NW. Photo by Amanda Kamppinen.

Nearly two years of waiting will come to an end this spring for a heralded Grand Rapids restaurant.

The Søvengård is set to complete its move westward down Bridge Street and open at its new location, 1232 Bridge St. NW, by mid-April, according to owner Rick Muschiana at the time the magazine went to print.

The Søvengård opened in 2016 at its original 442 Bridge St. NW location and quickly became a hit with West Michigan foodies, even garnering a Grand Rapids Magazine nod as best restaurant in Grand Rapids in March 2020.

The new spot is a collaboration with Ben M. Muller Realty Co. and it is a maturation of sorts for the restaurant, Muschiana said. Ten Ring Construction is finishing the build out.

“We’re going to lean further into our concept,” he said of the restaurant’s Midwest-meets-New Nordic ethos. “That’s not just a concept, it’s a philosophical life style choice for how we want to  conduct our business and what we think is important.

“It’s more than having people come in and give us their money. We want people to identify with our choices to support local and what we’re doing for the environment and the culture we create.”

Muschiana said the business has always strived to be an asset for the community while working to help improve the city. Taking the restaurant further west will help lengthen the Bridge Street corridor, while also working to become a neighborhood anchor and focal point at that far end.

A glimpse of Sovengard’s spacious new interior. The restaurant’s Facebook page, updated Feb. 2, 2024 stated that the restaurant is two to three months away from opening. Photo by Amanda Kamppinen.

“We’ve just kind of hit the tip of the iceberg for what we can precipitate what we’re forming and the philosophies we hold,” he said.

The new space includes three separate rooms, and while they all flow together, Muschiana said they can also be separated for private event usage. One room also connects to the outdoor beer garden, what he called a porch. It’s long, shotgun style design includes two big skylights, a gas fireplace and a big door that will open up onto the beer garden when the weather permits.

As for the beer garden, it will take the concept from the original locations, which was by all accounts the best outdoor beer garden in the city and improve it. It will have 100 seats or so, garden and living wall and likely another outdoor bar.

“There’s no Søvengård without a beer garden,” he said. “It will return. We think it will feel like it grew up a little bit. A little more ‘neighborhoody.’

“When I was first dreaming of this restaurant, I envisioned people walking down, pushing strollers, and activating it in that way.

The kitchen also will expand, providing the staff with more room to explore their culinary creativity.

Along with improving the initial iteration of Søvengård, Muschiana said the new space will also allow for a new piece of the business: a small mini market. That will allow the farmers to sell produce straight to consumers.

“If you sit down and have a dish with amazing tomatoes, you can go take some home and support in those ways and have the same access we do,” he said.

It will also allow The Søvengårdto sell other local artisan products. Nothing too crazy, he said, but perhaps the perfect package of food and beverage for a lovely picnic.

“We loved what our other space was, but there were a lot of operational challenges,” Muschiana said. “This is our brand growing up a few years and feeling more in line with where we’re at with life.”

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