The soon-to-open Beer Grotto in Lansing’s Stadium District is a testament to the vision of Sam Short and his business partners to rethink why people come to bars.
The absence of a traditional bar and the inclusion of “tasting pods” that dot an open landscape create an environment where customers can enjoy extraordinary beer or wine. Well-trained “beer geeks” and “cork dorks” will advise and assist customers with sampling and selecting a craft beverage that suits their tastes and preferences.
“We’re looking to eliminate that buyer’s remorse,” says Short, one of four owners along with Troy Ontko, Brandon Ansel and Lisa Manno. “There’s no need for that in this modern world. Our goal is to restructure the experience and to make sure you get what you want.”
The combination tasting and to-go store is slated to open in early March and follows two Beer Grottos that recently premiered in Ann Arbor and Dexter. Patrons will be able to hang out in a full-service lounge, reserve event space for parties or other events, and purchase any of the craft beer and wines carried on site.
Designed as a destination for craft beverage fans, the Beer Grotto has 48 craft beers on tap and dozens of boutique wines—with about 75 percent made in Michigan. Customers can also enjoy a select line of non-alcohol beers, wines and sodas, as well as limited food options—or as Short says, “enough to get you through the happy hour.”
Aside from the beverages, the interior décor will be an attraction unto itself. The 4,100- square foot space will feature tables with Cyprus wood tops made from 100-year-old Heinz pickle barrels. A 30-foot by 15-foot mural painted by Detroit artist Jeremy Harvey will add to the restaurant’s welcoming ambiance.
“Jeremy is doing something similar to our Dexter store but unique to Lansing,” says Short. “He did some crazy stuff there with phosphorescent paint, so you know he’ll do something super amazing here, too.”
The Lansing Beer Grotto will create about 25 full-time and 10 part-time jobs. Staff are expressly trained by area managers, and also receive training as beer cicerones and wine sommeliers.
“We have a triple bottom-line,” says Short. “We think about people, the planet and profit—with people being first.”