Our story

In May 2007, Mark and Michele Sellers moved to Grand Rapids after spending a decade in Chicago. Mark, a former investment manager, decided to go into a state of semi-retirement and take a lot of long walks and naps. Michele was taking a break after a long stint as a paralegal. But after being in Grand Rapids less than a week, the couple realized they needed a good pub to hang out in and decided to create it themselves. Hey, everybody needs a hobby! A vacant space downtown next to Van Andel Arena was identified, a lease was signed, and presto! (well...not quite, but you get the idea) HopCat was born. The bar opened in January 2008. 

We did some things differently: No smoking was allowed in the bar (this was before the ban), and we decided not to carry any beer from the Big 3 (Bud, Miller, Coors). Other bar owners told us Grand Rapids would never accept such a weird place, and that we'd be forced to change our ways to better fit consumer tastes. But five years later, the bar is full almost every night and we haven't compromised our principles, even if it might make us a bit more money in the short term. And we never will. This is one reason why HopCat has been rated the #3 beer bar in the world by Beer Advocate Magazine, the #22 bar in the world by RateBeer.com, #2 beer bar in the U.S. by CraftBeer.com, and named in Draft Magazine as one of the Top 50 places in the U.S. to grab a beer.

In 2009, Mark and Michele opened Stella's Lounge around the corner from HopCat. Stella's is an attempt to explore a different side of the owners' personalities. The bar has 200 kinds of whiskey, an extensive food menu, a bunch of 1980's arcade video games, a lot of local artwork, maybe an improbable, eclectic mix. But somehow, it works. Stella's burger was named Best Burger in America by GQ Magazine in July 2012 and most nights the seats are filled with happy people enjoying themselves immensely.

In 2010, the opportunity to purchase McFadden's presented itself, so our 'family' grew again.

The Sellers are immensely proud of all the hard work put into each place by its dedicated staff, and thrilled to be able to boost the local economy by creating jobs for over 200 Grand Rapids area residents.

Grand Rapids Brewing Company is the 4th member of the BarFly Ventures family.
Originally opened on New Year's Day in 1893 as a merger of 6 smaller breweries, Grand Rapids Brewing Company made its triumphant return to downtown GR on December 5th, 2012 - ironcally the same day that prohibition was repealed in 1933.
GRBC is located just 6 blocks from its original location at Ionia and Michigan, at the busiest corner of the vibrant Heartside entertainment district. Since opening HopCat, the craft beer focus of the GR bar scene has seen a virtual explosion, and it made us want to 'rescue' this great name in Grand Rapids history from the suburban indignity of being located in a mall parking lot.
Our staff was selected for their experience and enthusiasm, and we think we've assembled an amazing group of people who are passionate about making sure you have a truly spectacular time with us. 
GRBC is proud to be the Midwest's first USDA-certified organic brewery.
In keeping with the organic and local theme of GRBC, much of our interior space was created using reclaimed materials.  Our tables were are made from the old floor joists pulled up as we began rehabbing the space. The barstools were made right here in GR, the art was done by local artist David Dodde, our host stand an old foreman's station from the Chris-Craft factory, we even gave the old fire door a coat of paint and hung it over the bar in the back room.
As a part of BarFly, GRBC recycles about 90% of our waste, utilizes a closed-loop composting system, and works with a number of fantastic local businesses to find creative ways to be stewards of our environment. 
We are thrilled to be able to share Grand Rapids Brewing Company with you!