By now, you know us as Creston Brewery, but in the spirit of transparency, our official name is Golden Age Brewing Company, LLC. We use this label as an homage to the craft beer being brewed right now, which we believe is the best beer that has ever been! What selecting and registering that name really signified is that we were very focused, committed, and absolutely all-in for the goal of opening a brewery. Many years ago, we knew this was a dream that we had to bring to life. In 2014, we developed a comprehensive business plan that our business consultants and bankers called “really outstanding.” This was all quite some time before we even knew where our brewery might be located. We looked at many potential sites; some with the help of realtors and more when folks tipped us off to rumors. Some of the places we looked at were pretty promising. Others too expensive to convert into a brewhaus. And a couple were too small to encase our big dreams.
Then, through the happiest of coincidences, we got a wild suggestion from a family member… to take a look at a building that all of us already knew a little something about. For some, it was because they lived in the area at one point, for others, it was that gorgeous building they used to drive by almost every day on their way downtown to work. That beautifully historic building was the former DeKorne’s Furniture Showroom on the corner of Quimby and Plainfield.
It had been purchased, gently under-used and carefully preserved by Jerry Pitcher, owner of Optical Supply Inc. Jerry and his son Ben had been waiting, very patiently, for the right idea and the right people to come along in order to do something special with the remarkable space they restored. After we inquired, we then toured the building and needless to say, we were immediately enamored. After looking more closely at the surrounding area, we met with extremely helpful and encouraging people and happily discovered several other focused, committed and absolutely all-in development plans for the neighborhood. What’s even more serendipitous is we caught wind that the city of Grand Rapids was eager to help the Creston area grow again.
We were finally on our way…
In our research, we came to know the fascinating history of Creston itself; before, during and after the Golden Age of Furniture. That history has been told in various ways, but our favorite is repeated below:
Prior to its annexation in 1891, this area was farmland, cultivated by Dutch immigrants.
Creston became a working class streetcar suburb of Grand Rapids. The advent of a train depot at the corner of Plainfield and Leonard— where the Choo Choo Grill is located— and a streetcar line running North on Plainfield and connecting to the bustling hub of downtown commerce, known as Grab Corners, attracted various hotels and small retail businesses to the area. The neighborhood became populated by Irish who started the St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, and French who worked as lumbermen or railway workers. In 1906, local residents formed the first neighborhood organization in the city and held a name contest which resulted in the name “Creston” after the hills near Spencer Street and Plainfield Ave. The Creston Citizens’ Association organized neighbors and communicated with city hall for various improvements such as parks, street lights, increased police protection, and attraction of retail business. These developments fueled more expansion on north Plainfield, allowing for the establishment of a second [Cheshire Village] and later a third [North Park] business district along the avenue. Today the Creston neighborhood boundaries stretch north as far as 4 Mile Road after annexing two other neighborhoods in the 1990’s. Creston is now the largest neighborhood in the city of Grand Rapids with over 26,000 people, 430 businesses, 24 churches and 14 schools.***
Now that’s some good history!
In a very short time, we knew we had found the right place for us. We chose Creston Brewery as our public name because we were so proud of our new location. Now that we had a vision, a location and a new site-specific name, we finally had a complete story to tell city planners. Our idea of a big friendly brewery, restaurant and music event venue in Grand Rapids’ largest and most diverse neighborhood received a good hearing from public officials and a very warm welcome from Creston neighbors.
(c) Copyright, Creston Brewery, 2016