KALAMAZOO, MI — Patrons of the now-closed Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant how it helped them make lasting memories, and contributed to the growing culture of beer brewing in Kalamazoo.
After 25 years in business, the downtown brewpub is closing its doors, the owners announced this week. The business is closed until July 24, when they are planning to reopen for a final day of business at the space, from noon to 8 p.m.
“We would love to keep OP alive if someone is interested or another tenant is interested in the space,” the business posted on Facebook Thursday, July 8. “Thank you for the memories ??”
Related: Olde Peninsula Brewpub and Restaurant closes permanently after 25 years in Kalamazoo
Earlier on Thursday, the business posted about its plans to close permanently later this month. Fans reacted online to news about the loss of the downtown business.
Customer Corey Brasher said he would end up at “OP’s” with friends on Tuesday nights in 1999 when he was about 25 and lived nearby. He took his girlfriend to Olde Peninsula when they were dating, he said. Later, he proposed to her there.
“It’s a big loss for the community as a whole and for those of us who love their products,” Brasher said.
Then, it was the place in Kalamazoo where people would go to get food and drink craft beer. When Olde Peninsula first opened, Bell’s Brewery was serving beer at its location nearby, but did not have a kitchen or food service at the time, he said.
Brasher stated going to Olde Peninsula when Greg “Gonzo” Haner was brewing, he said. Haner later established Gonzo’s Big Dog in Kalamazoo, which was later sold to Saugatuck Brewing and remains open as the brewery’s Kalamazoo taproom.
Jason Brautigam first tried Olde Peninsula in 2000, during one of his first dates with his girlfriend, who is now his wife. He got a growler of Midnight Stout to go, and started stopping back in for refills.
“This place started my love of craft beer,” Brautigam said.
Other beers on the menu included OP IPA, Haymarket Cream Ale and Rockin’ Razberry Wheat.
Brautigam, 49, went on to be a part-owner of Brite Eyes Brewing Co. and, until recently, he helped run the DrinKzoo group on Facebook, which focuses on discussion of adult beverages.
“It will be missed,” he said of Kalamazoo’s original brewpub. “The combination of craft beer with great food, and the atmosphere, is why my wife and I loved going to there for dinner.”
Olde Peninsula made its mark on the beer scene developing in Kalamazoo, where Bell’s Brewery was already an established name and going pretty good at the time, Buy Local Greater Kalamazoo Executive Director Mark Liddle said.
Liddle has been going to Olde Peninsula since it opened in 1996, as Kalamazoo’s first brewpub. More recently, he said, he took family members there because they were looking for a quality burger.
The brewpub has been a favorite for revelers celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. The restaurant often hosted anniversary celebrations that coincided with the holiday, since Olde Peninsula opened its doors just in time for the celebration of all things Irish in 1996.
Since Olde Peninsula opened, the Kalamazoo area has seen a number of new breweries open including One Well Brewing, Presidential Brewing Co., Brite Eyes Brewing Co., Latitude 42 and others.
Some breweries have come and gone in Kalamazoo. Over the last two years, the community has said farewell to Arcadia Brewing Co., Boatyard Brewing Co. and Tibbs Brewery.
“It’s a shame that we’re losing yet another local icon in the downtown area, and that’s why it’s so important that we continue to support the local businesses,” Liddle said.
In April 2020, Olde Peninsula co-owner Marie Blinn spoke with MLive about the hit business everywhere has taken from coronavirus closures. At the time, Blinn said if those restrictions lasted into June of that year, the business might be facing closure.
Related: Without coronavirus aid, point of no return looms for Michigan small businesses
More recently, the restaurant was able to reopen after state orders allowed for the return of limited dine-in service.
The owners could not be reached by MLive for comment.
News of Olde Peninsula’s closure comes just over a year after news of a change in who makes the beer for the brewpub. In May 2020, the company announced that One Well Brewing would brew Old Peninsula beers to be served at the downtown brewpub.
Olde Peninsula co-owner Steve Blinn spoke with MLive about the arrangement with One Well. Blinn said the collaboration would allow the brewpub to distribute some of its core beers at local stores, restaurants and bars as well.
Related: One Well Brewing to begin production of Olde Peninsula’s core beers
The Blinns also own downtown bar and restaurant Harvey’s on the Mall, which remains open.
“Harvey’s is alive & well & would love to see you all,” Olde Peninsula posted on Facebook on July 8.
Harvey’s went through a temporary closure, starting in March 2020, as the pandemic and accompanying government restrictions hit the restaurant industry.
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