West side businesses throw block party


Long Road Distillers and Mitten Brewing Co., along with neighbors Two Scotts Barbecue, host the WGNO Block Party. Photo via fb.com

When Mitten Brewing Co. was getting started in 2011, owners Chris Andrus and Max Trierweiler were a bit apprehensive as they attended the West Grand Neighborhood Organization Christmas Party.

They meekly told then-executive director Nola Steketee they were the guys opening the brewery on Leonard Street.

“She gave us a big hug and cried about how happy she was,” Andrus said. “Ever since then, we felt like we belonged and we haven’t forgotten.”

Steketee stepped down earlier this year, and the city’s second largest neighborhood organization is trying to regain its footing under interim executive director Robert Tolbert. So this weekend, several Leonard Street businesses are coming together to throw the inaugural WGNO Block Party, led by the Mitten. All profits will head to WGNO.

There is a suggested donation of $5 for admission.

“The organization needs the help financially,” Andrus said. “This helps give them a fresh start and some operating funds so they can continue the programs they’ve provided the neighborhood.”

The block party will be held noon-8 p.m., Saturday, in the parking lots of the Mitten and Long Road Distillers, along with a portion of Quarry Street north of Leonard, between the two businesses.

Both the distillery and brewery will be open, while Two Scotts Barbecue — from across Leonard Street — will be closed and only serving at the block party.

Andrus said WGNO has supported the brewery countless times, so it’s time to repay that generosity.

“We couldn’t have done it without their support,” he said. “They came to planning meetings on our behalf and spoke up for us; they gave us assistance with the city when we needed it.”

Mercantile Bank, with its headquarters on Leonard Street, is the presenting sponsor, with several other businesses with a west side presence supporting, including 616 Development, Open Systems Technologies, Westside Garage, Ferris Coffee and Nut, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. and Rockford Construction.

Music will be performed from 2-8 p.m., by bands such as JOE, AOK, The Legal Immigrants, Shane Tripp, Boot Strap Boys and DJ Vinyl Fetish.

“This is great timing for this party,” Andrus said. “We’ve got three businesses rolling and it’s a great excuse to get together on something, close down the street and have a party that will showcase the hot corner we have going on here.”

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