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New Pioneer Article

Posted 06-12-2011 at 07:49 PM by Big Rapids Chris

Order up? East-side restaurants’ openings delayed, abandoned

RENOVATIONS: Ron Alward helps with renovations at the River Rock Food and Spirits in Big Rapids. His son, Brett Alward and business partner Chris Mullins plan to open the yet-to-be named bar and grill this summer. (Pioneer photos/Jonathan Eppley)
BIG RAPIDS — Two restaurants on Baldwin Street that were expected to open this spring have had to put work on the back burner. One expects to open later this summer, and the other will not open at all.

Renovations at the yet-to-be-named bar and grill opening in the River Rock Food and Spirits location have taken longer than expected. Business partners Brett Alward and Chris Mullins are doing a majority of the work to rehab the building themselves, and misjudged how long it would take to complete.

“We’re probably looking at five to six weeks before we’re ready,” Mullins said. “We didn’t come across anything unexpected (during renovations), we just miscalculated the timeline for completion.”

After gutting the whole inside of the building, Alward and Mullins have leveled the floors, installed drywall, built up the bar area, partially tiled the kitchen floor and started construction of new bathrooms.

About half of the bar’s interior is the original exposed brick, with drywall covering the remaining cinder-block walls. Wood support beams in the middle of the seating area are covered in a dark stain to match the 25-foot-long bar. The bathrooms have been painted a bright yellow with brown ceramic tile flooring.

“We’ve still got to finish the bar top, put down flooring, paint the walls, … and we have to name the bar still,” Mullins said. “It’s been very slow progress, but at the end it will all come together.”

The two also are working to finalize the menu. They want to cater to several demographics.

“It’s going to be an amazing balance (between college students and city residents),” Mullins said. “It’s difficult to appeal to a professor, a student and someone from the community, because they’re all going to have different needs. We want to be somewhere that everyone wants to come to.”

WORK IN PROGRESS: Restaurateurs Brett Alward and Chris Mullins are doing most of the renovation work at the former River Rock Food and Spirits on Baldwin Street. Renovations have taken longer than anticipated, and they expect to be completed in 5 to 6 weeks.
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