Downtown bar re-opens after fire


John Jermstad, left, and Carrie Jermstad. Photo via

Ten months after a fire tore through its kitchen, a family owned Grand Rapids bar is back in business.

Birch Lodge owners John Jermstad and Carrie Jermstad re-opened their bar and restaurant, at 732 Michigan St. NE, last week after repairing the damage from an electrical fire that happened last July.

“We’re excited to be open, and our customers are excited,” John Jermstad said. “First day we opened, we were full. We didn’t even put the word out.”

He said the fire originated in the kitchen after the bar had closed. A public waste truck driver happened to be in the alley adjacent to the building, saw the smoke and called 911.

“As he was on the phone, it really started going, and the fire department was here in, like, 10 minutes,” John Jermstad said. “Otherwise, we would have lost everything.”

The Jermstads did lose their entire kitchen and a dry storage area to the fire. Aside from the outpouring of support on social media, John Jermstad said they also had a few supporters raise funds to re-build.

Grand Rapids Building Repair was the head contractor on the job.

“It’s good to be back,” John Jermstad said. “The main part of the building is the oldest part. We kept it all the same.”

“Thank you to our amazing staff,” Carrie Jermstad says on the bar’s Facebook page. “Thank you to our loyal customers who today showed up and packed the place.”

Birch Lodge is open all week from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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