On Sunday, Dec. 10, 2017 the Grotto posted to Facebook that they would be relocating. The news of the relocation instantly aroused mixed emotions from past and present bar-goers of the Grotto. While the reactions were diverse, the question on everybody’s mind was “why?”
The decision to move came after the failure to agree on a new lease with the landlord. Originally, the idea to move hadn’t come across the mind of owner Bobby Sak. As time passed trying to renegotiate a lease, it became apparent that it wasn’t going to lead to anything successful, so Sak began playing around with the idea of relocating.
“At the end of the day we only had two options,” Sak said. “We either close completely or move.”
To him, making the decision to move was a no brainer.
“We’ve got such a wonderful staff and we have a really good following, I knew we had to keep it going,” Sak said.
Back in April, the space next to Otter’s Oasis, previously home to the Mix, became available. Once Sak took a look at it he knew it was the perfect place to relocate.
“It’s almost a blessing that it was available for us to use and move into,” Sak said.
After the decision was made to move, the relocation process started pretty fast.
“We had to have the old place emptied out by the end of the month [of December],” explained Sak. “Our last day of business was [Dec. 20], so we literally emptied out about 10,000 square feet of stuff in about 10 days.”
The people of the Grotto used this relocation as a way to give back to the community.
“We donated 350 pounds to the Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes out of our kitchen,” General Manager Jacob Watchorn said.
Besides adapting to a new location, the Grotto will be facing a new challenge of not having a kitchen on site. Not having a kitchen will force Sak and Watchorn to get creative on how to bring food to their customers.
“Good thing is we aren’t known for our food, we’re known for being a bar, and that’s what we will continue to be,” Sak said.
There’s no doubt that the relocation of the Grotto will lead to changes. However, Sak and Watchorn are both adamant on trying to keep the Grotto as much the same as possible.
“We’re known for half off, we’re known for Friday nights,” Watchorn said. “We’re going to have the same exact specials, in fact I believe they’re going to be better.”
Even though the Grotto won’t be at their original location anymore, Sak and Watchorn are working hard to maintain the original Grotto feel.
“We don’t want [the customers] to walk in and have it not feel like the Grotto because of different specials and this and that,” Sak said. “We want them to walk in and know that they’re back at the Grotto.”
Unfortunately it is unclear as to when the Grotto will be re-opening, however both men are excited for the public to see what they’ve done with the new space.
“We’re really confident that as long as they give us a chance and walk through those doors, they’re going to be overwhelmed with the feeling of being back in The Grotto,” Sak said.