Eastern Kille Distillery receives approval for East Hills cocktail bar

Eastern Kille Distillery will sell its award-winning spirits, including Michigan Straight Rye Whiskey, at its new East Hills tasting room. Courtesy Eastern Kille Distillery

Eastern Kille Distillery is moving forward with a new cocktail bar on Wealthy Street after receiving city approval.

Steve Vander Pol and Brandon Voorhees, co-owners of Eastern Kille Distillery, on Thursday, Feb. 10, received approval from the Grand Rapids City Planning Commission to proceed with a cocktail bar at 634 Wealthy St. SE, in the east side of the building that also houses Rowster Coffee Co.

Eastern Kille leased the space from building owner Georgetown Development/Wealthy Street Historic Development LLC.

The tasting room will offer a menu of 30 craft cocktails — a third of which are classics, a third house specialties and a third seasonal — that reflect the distillery’s existing menu at its original location, at 700 Ottawa Ave. NW in downtown Grand Rapids.

Vander Pol and Voorhees sold the Ottawa Avenue building to Spectrum Health in summer 2021 as the health system continues its Medical Mile expansions. Eastern Kille’s lease for that location will conclude at the end of the year, and the distilling operations will move to a recently purchased 16-acre parcel in Plainfield Township, Voorhees told the Business Journal on Feb. 11. The co-owners will seek approval from the Plainfield Township Planning Commission Feb. 22 to proceed with those plans.

Vander Pol said they hope to set up their new distillery operations in Plainfield Township within three months of closing the Ottawa location, depending on how quickly approval and construction goes so they can begin moving their equipment.

The new cocktail bar on Wealthy Street is an 1,100-square-foot space that will accommodate 40 to 50 patrons at a time. In addition to cocktails, the tasting room will offer to-go sales of spirits.

“We’re hoping to make it a really comfortable neighborhood spot. We’re trying to blend both our brand and what we’ve been doing for the past six years with what we think is one of the cooler neighborhoods in Grand Rapids,” Vander Pol said. “We fit in really well there, and I think (customers) are really going to enjoy the craft cocktail program we’re bringing.”

Vander Pol said Eastern Kille hopes to lease another space in the Monroe North neighborhood, if they can find one, to maintain a presence in an area they have loved.

“This is going to give us a wonderful opportunity to see if we could successfully operate a space in East Hills and in North Monroe simultaneously,” he said. “We love being a part of this neighborhood.”

Eastern Kill is targeting a late spring/early summer opening date for the cocktail bar.

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