Category Archives: Ann Arbor

HopCat To Expand With 6 New Locations

Since opening their first location in 2008, HopCat has run its business around the simple mission of delivering great food, great beer, and great music to the people. With plans to double their locations from six to twelve in 2016, they are working on bringing craft beer to an even larger market.

Seeking to fill a void of craft beer options in Grand Rapids, beer lover Mark Sellers founded as a place where friends could hang out and enjoy new local brews, as well as options from around the country and around the world. Now part of the BarFly Ventures family, alongside Stella’s Lounge, McFadden’s, and Grand Rapids Brewing Company, HopCat is now one of the staples in the burgeoning craft beer scene of Grand Rapids.

HopCat’s success in Grand Rapids caused for quick expansion throughout the rest of Michigan and even beyond the state boundaries. In 2013, HopCat decided to expand their brand and open a second location in East Lansing. The bar, adjacent to Michigan State University campus, offered a staggering 100 craft beers on draft as well as free “crack fries”. New locations soon followed in Detroit, Indianapolis, Madison, Ann Arbor, and Lexington. Now, a $25 million deal with a Texas-based lender will help HopCat finance 30 new locations over the next several years, starting with the recently announced upcoming location in Lincoln, NE.

Chris Knape, VP of Marketing and Communications, also known around the company as Mr. Propaganda, is extremely excited about the opportunity to expand HopCat further. “We wanted to see if the concept had legs [and] it was successful so we decided to expand.” While expansion on this sort of level can provide some challenges for a brand of any kind, Knape is sure that all of the HopCat locations, new and old, will stay true to their craft beer core.

Ann Arbor Welcomes The Trolley Pub

(Ann Arbor, MI) If you love bar crawls, but hate the downtime between stops, Trolley Pub is the right thing for you. Founded in Raleigh, the Trolley Pub offers a unique experience with pedal-powered tours that allow riders to enjoy beverages between stops on a fixed route of local breweries, pubs and restaurants.

Trolley Pub launched in Ann Arbor in September 2015 after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation to allow pedal trolley passengers to consume alcohol they bring on board earlier in the summer. The only requirement is that the operator is not under the influence and has proof of liability insurance. Local ordinances still have the power to prohibit onboard alcohol consumption, but, as of now, Ann Arbor city officials are still reviewing the matter.

Amanda Swan, Managing Partner of the new branch, is very excited to grow the business in Ann Arbor, as a new form of sustainable tourism should be highly appealing to the local community. “It will be a great fit in terms of personality,” Swan asserts. Her team is even looking into opportunities to winterize their trolleys and hopes they can have a solution ready for next winter.

The trolleys are capable of transporting up to 14 passengers and are powered by foot pedals under each of the riders, with steering left in the hands of the designated driver. Customers are allowed to bring whatever beer and wine they would like along for the ride, but liquor is not permitted. There are two types of tours available: private ones for 6-14 people at a flat rate of $375, and mixers for 1-14 people at a price of $30 per ticket. Both types of tours last two hours, and the mixers provide an opportunity for smaller parties to meet new people along their journey.