Contractor completes renovation of Holiday Bar

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Todd Wawee’s great-grandfather opened the Holiday Bar on Stocking Avenue NW in 1905. The business relocated to its current location on Fifth Street in 1959. Courtesy Orion Construction

A historic bar on the city’s West Side has a fresh, new look.

Todd Wawee, owner of the Holiday Bar, in partnership with Orion Construction recently celebrated the newly renovated 115-year-old Holiday Bar, at 801 Fifth St. NW in Grand Rapids.

General contractor Orion Construction completed the three-month renovation at the end of September, which included updating the building façade. It was one of several restoration projects managed throughout recent years to maintain the historic West Side building.

“We’re very fortunate to be here and serving our community in excess of 100 years on Grand Rapids’ West Side,” Wawee said. “From prohibition to a pandemic, we’ve seen our share of ups and downs, and we always find a way to rise above the adversity by staying true to the values we established over multiple generations as a local family business.”

In 1905, Wawee’s great-grandfather and Polish immigrant John Arsulowicz opened the establishment — then known as The Ideal Tavern — on Stocking Avenue NW, where Arsulowicz Brothers Mortuaries is now located. In 1959, the business relocated to its current location on Fifth Street, where it has been serving the community ever since.

In the past few years, Wawee completed multiple renovation projects to increase vibrancy within the neighborhood and keep pace with the changes on the West Side.

Orion Construction President Brad Walsh said he was proud to facilitate the project.

“We’ve long been fans of The Holiday Bar — they’re a staple in the West Side,” he said. “When we learned of Todd’s recent push to update the building’s façade, we jumped at the opportunity. We’ve had success in other historic renovations, like the famous Corner Bar in Rockford, so we wanted to continue that tradition with The Holiday Bar.”

In addition to the updated façade, Wawee commissioned a local artist to paint murals throughout The Holiday Bar’s outdoor bier garden.

“From front to back, we’re breathing new life into The Holiday Bar,” Wawee said. “It’s a classic look that’s unique to the West Side. We look forward to continuing to serve our customers and the community for another 100 years to come.”

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