By Kathy Gibbons
TRAVERSE CITY — The people at Right Brain Brewery are loving being open again.
The popular brewery and gathering spot closed at its location in the Warehouse District Memorial Day weekend, expecting it would take about a month to make a move to a new spot at 225 E. 16th Street. A month stretched into four, or what Right Brain's Leif Kolt describes as "a 90-day nightmare of different code things and dealing with all the permits and construction teams."
That's all water under the bridge now. Right Brain reopened a little over a month ago and has been "firing on full gears" since, said Kolt.
To celebrate, the brewery is holding a grand opening event on Saturday from 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. Highlights include an indoor street fair and flea market-themed event with more than 50 artists, vendors, street performers and musicians.
There's room for it all, because their new place is really big.
"We moved because basically, right after we opened in 2007 at our other building, almost immediately we were not able to meet the demand in our pub space and also through our distributors as we started to expand our tap handles," Kolt said. "From day one, we were almost to the point that we couldn't brew quick enough. We had brewers working around the clock and they couldn't keep up."
The new building, at last use a custom cabinetry manufacturing operation, Kolt said, has more than 35,000 square feet — more than 10 times the size of the old one. Right Brain isn't using all of it to start.
"We're actively using about 50 percent of the space," he said. "Our pub space and brewery are two functioning areas."
Sometime next year, Right Brain hopes to add a venue that can accommodate large crowds for live music, special events and outside rentals.
And a new rack for its member mugs is on order. About 600 people have purchased mug memberships over the years, now running $225, which entitles them to their own personalized mug and other perks.
Right Brain will continue to serve light snacks — pretzels, chips, hummus, popcorn — as it did before. But at certain times of the week, patrons can step outside and place an order with a food truck. Several have signed on to be there Thursday through Saturday starting at 3 p.m., with possibilities for another to come on other days.
In the meantime, the beer distribution part of the business is going strong. Right Brain isn't selling its beers in cans or bottles yet, but is seeing expansion for its tap products locally and throughout Michigan.
And with its new facilities, there's more room to grow.
"Our numbers are all up, we've had tons of people approaching us for events — it's just been huge," Kolt said. "Right when we opened our doors, we knew we did the right thing."
On Saturday, flea market hours are from 2 to 7 p.m. with arts, crafts, beer-inspired street food from Roaming Harvest, live acoustic street performers and activities for children. There will be free music by the Accidentals at 8 p.m., the FunDubMentals at 9 p.m. and K. Jones & the Benzie Playboys at 11 p.m. All ages are welcome until 9 p.m., when children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.