Partners begin construction on downtown Muskegon venues

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Courtesy Steven Tibbe

A group of partners has begun construction on a pair of venues called Motu Lakeshore Wine Bar and Prohibition Muskegon.

Jonathan Jelks and his father, Randal Jelks; Jamiel Robinson; recording artist Willie “Willie the Kid” Jackson; and Alvin Hills IV announced Monday, Feb. 21, construction officially kicked off on Motu Lakeshore Wine Bar and Prohibition Muskegon Bar & Lounge, at 1208 8th St. in Muskegon, across from Heritage Landing.

The partners hope to open the venues by late spring or early summer, as construction supplies and timelines allow.

The wine bar is named after Motu Viget Spirits, a Michigan-made wine and spirits company owned by Robinson, Jonathan Jelks and Jackson that has products on shelves in over 300 retail stores. It will occupy the front area, with an indoor four seasons room and outdoor patio space.

Prohibition Muskegon, in the back area of the building, will be a full-service bar and lounge with comfortable, open seating that will serve as a small live entertainment venue. Jonathan Jelks said it will be somewhat akin to the style of Ambiance GR Kitchen & Lounge in downtown Grand Rapids, another project of Jelks, Robinson, Hills and Jackson, with their partners, Lacy Jones and Jamal Chilton.

The Muskegon establishments — which will offer a minimal food menu of small plates and charcuterie to start — will work together to host weddings, receptions and other formal, large events.

“(We hope to) take advantage of being so close to Muskegon Lake and what is the boardwalk and the main entry into downtown Muskegon,” Jonathan Jelks said. “We consider ourselves the gateway into the city.”

The partners have been working on the project over the past year, engaging Kevin Osterhart from Concept Studio Design and Lott3Metz Architecture as the architects; Honor Construction as the general contractor, with preliminary work done by Muskegon Quality Builders; and Tiffany Thornton, from Tiffany Eden Design, as the interior designer.

Jonathan Jelks said he and his collaborators feel Muskegon is “an amazing community” they are excited to be joining with their latest venture.

“We really have a tremendous amount of respect for the people there and have felt a very warm embrace from the community, and the excitement over the project makes us feel good,” he said.

“It’s an excellent time to invest in Muskegon because there’s so much synergy between the small business community and the government. (City Manager) Frank Peterson was an inspiration for us to do the project up there; the way that he was able to highlight all the assets in Muskegon and to galvanize energy around downtown made us want to be participants in the transformation that’s happening.”

Jonathan Jelks said the team is looking to create opportunities in the hospitality industry for up-and-coming young people in Muskegon.

“These projects, for us, are never just about what we’re doing in the bottom line, but also about making sure that others get exposure and training to potentially make their way into management and own establishments like this. We have a focus on bringing diversity into downtown Muskegon and contributing to the ecosystem that is already doing the same.”

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