GRAND RAPIDS — In-house food delivery and expanded outdoor capacity are just a few pandemic lessons Rob Schellenberg has learned as he prepares to open a new bar with live music space on Grand Rapids’ West Side.
Schellenberg — who has worked in the restaurant industry around the lakeshore and Grand Rapids for years — is set to open his own place, Turnstiles, in March.
His initial plan to open the bar on Leonard Street NW fell through, mainly because of failing to meet parking requirements mandated by city ordinance. Rockford Construction Co. then reached out to him about leasing a space at 526 Stocking Ave. NW next to its headquarters.
The lease was finalized in August 2020, and construction is almost complete.
“I’m very excited for the live music. I have a lot of friends in the music scene in Grand Rapids, and I’m happy to give them another place to play,” said Schellenberg, who’s originally from Grand Rapids.
Rockford Construction was the general contractor on the $500,000 renovation to build out Turnstiles. The space, which will also serve food, will be decked out with murals commissioned by New Orleans-based artists Jason Rodriguez and Heather Marie Dickens and include a dance floor in front of the stage area.
One pandemic lesson learned as an industry veteran was the need for an in-house delivery service rather than relying on third-party platforms. Turnstiles will also use the large adjacent parking lot for outdoor seating.
“Grubhub and Uber Eats cut into about 30 percent of your profits,” Schellenberg said. “I want to give people a cheaper product and I also want to have control of how the food goes out and how it’s being delivered. I honestly was not thinking about outdoor seating, but with everything going on, I think it is a necessity.”
Turnstiles has an indoor capacity of 185, which Schellenberg said would be manageable if the space is mandated by the state to run at half capacity when it opens.
“I’d really like it if we could be at full capacity in June or July,” Shellenberg said. “This is my dream and I will continue to try to fight for it as long as I can. A lot of my old regulars and friends are really excited about this and have a positive thing to look forward to when things do open.”
Schellenberg previously worked at Boatwerks Waterfront Restaurant in Holland, Petrino’s Pizzeria in Zeeland, and several bars and restaurants in the Grand Rapids area including O’Toole’s, Rockwell Republic and Walker Roadhouse.
“I really want this to be a home for everyone, but people in the industry as well,” Schellenberg said. “A lot of our specials will be geared toward that, whether they are employees in the front or back of the house.”
News coverage in the real estate and development section of MiBiz is made possible by advertising support from The Michigan Economic Development Corporation. MEDC markets Michigan as the place to do business, assists businesses in their growth strategies and fosters the growth of vibrant communities across the state. This advertisement has no effect on editorial consideration in MiBiz.