GRAND RAPIDS — After five years in operation tucked away in a nondescript office building along U.S. 131, mead maker Arktos LLC plans to move to a new location along Grand Rapids’ bustling Bridge Street corridor.
The company is in the process of building out space at 442 Bridge St. NW for its new mead hall and production facility. Owner Maciej Halaczkiewicz believes the foot traffic at the new location will help expose more people to the business, which has operated for its first five years at 1251 Century Ave. SW, near the U.S. 131 and Hall Street interchange.
“Having the exposure and foot traffic will help bring out the mead lovers,” Halaczkiewicz said, noting that opening in a new location is “like starting over” for the company.
The Bridge Street location, situated on the south side of the street between Head of the Pride salon and Cornerstone Architects Inc.’s office, will allow Arktos to nearly triple in size and provide needed storage space for the manufacturing side of the business, Halaczkiewicz said.
His vision for the new space is to create a mead hall environment for patrons to come and socialize with one another. A new 32-foot wooden bar and 20-foot wooden table will help create that communal setting, he said.
“We want to be the go-to place where it’s dimly lit and takes you back in time and there’s no TVs — it’s a warming environment,” Halaczkiewicz said.
The site was formerly a satellite cafe for Go Java Coffee Shop and before that a second location for Sparrow’s Coffee.
Arktos submitted licensing for the Bridge Street location at the end of July, and hopes to get a decision from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission in October. If all goes well with the state, the new location could open as soon as Nov. 1.
If approved, Arktos would join the growing craft beverage scene on Bridge Street, which in a roughly two-block stretch includes Harmony Hall, Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales and New Holland Brewing Co., as well as a handful of bars and restaurants.
Besides the expanded customer-facing tasting room, the new location will allow Arktos to ramp up production with the goal to get the company’s products back into distribution at select accounts around Michigan. As well, the Bridge Street location will provide more storage space for barrel racks so Arktos can age more of its popular meads such as Queen Bee, its traditional fermented honey beverage that requires barrel-aging time to achieve the right balance of flavors, Halaczkiewicz said.
Arktos’ new location will just offer drinks to start, but the company could look to expand with a full kitchen after it gets established. Halaczkiewicz said he also plans to apply for a small distiller license to be able to offer distilled mead and mead-based cocktails.
The company currently has a microbrewery license and brews beers such as braggots, a style of honey-based beer.
According to MLCC data, Arktos in 2018 sold about 2,210 liters (584 gallons) of mead, which is classified as a wine. That was up more than 20 percent from the prior year.
Halaczkiewicz, who said the company secured bank financing for the project, also expects the larger production facility will help him keep up with demand for product in the tasting room.
“I want to continue to fulfill my dream for Arktos,” he said, noting that while customers from out of town seek out Arktos, the company remains somewhat of an unknown for locals. “I feel Grand Rapids doesn’t even know I exist.”
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