Muskegon ‘misfits’ create unique new entertainment space downtown
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“One of the things we’ve said from day one is, ‘We want to bring people together to live together’.”
No matter the challenge, Michael Brower said the goal has always remained the same.
“There’s something that appeals to everyone,” he said. “They can all get together, make new friends, hang out with existing friends and really enjoy life.”
An experience for a group, created by a group.
Michael Brower, Joel Kamp and Chad Doane. As Michael likes to call them, the “Muskegon Band of Misfits”, but together there’s nothing out of place.
“We joke that we’re brothers,” Michael said. “The great thing about brothers is that we argue and we’re better off for each other at the same time.”
Together they founded the popular Pigeon Hill Brewing Company in 2014. They later added Brewer’s Lounge Taproom to their collection.
“We are extremely lucky to work so well together,” said Michael. “I mean, most ownership groups aren’t family owned.”
The group took a small craft brewery and turned it into a statewide success, exporting Muskegon beer all over Michigan.
However, the misfits still felt that something was missing… well….
“Virtually our entire team and all of the owners of Pigeon Hill live downtown, right in the heart of Muskegon,” Michael said. “We feel like we’ve seen a lot of growth and momentum and things to do, but, at the same time, there’s still a lack of things to do.”
They spent many sleepless nights thinking and brainstorming ideas, always coming back to the same question: “As residents of Muskegon, what would we like to have in this area?”
Socibowl is the answer they found.
“To bring this place together where Muskegon has kind of a big city, to feel right in the heart of our downtown now,” Michael said.
Socibowl is a multi-experience entertainment space with food, drink, darts and garden games, all centered around the team’s title – bowling.
Panoramic video view of the Socibowl
Not just any type of bowling, however. They have six duckpin bowling alleys, which is a smaller, modern take on the classic sport.
At the same time, it’s also a nod to the original use of that exact space.
“This building was built for bowling during the heyday of bowling in America,” Michael said. “It was then bought by Brunswick, which operated as a test facility, so they were actually testing all their new equipment here.”
After Brunswick left, the Downtown Development Corporation took over. It became a series of nightclubs before falling into disrepair, according to Michael, until the Misfits bought it as a Pigeon Hill production site in 2015.
“Pigeon Hill’s original canned beer came from here,” Michael said. “We knew from the start that this was not the highest and best use for a building right in the middle of our downtown corridor. So we built a new production plant and started to ask, “What can we do in this space?”
For most, the term “unsuitable” might have a negative connotation. Really, it’s just someone who doesn’t conform. Someone who thinks unconventionally.
That’s what Michael, Joel and Chad did. They hope their story will inspire others to do the same.
“I think that’s indicative of what’s to come in Muskegon,” Michael said. “We took a big city concept and adapted it to Muskegon. I see a lot more of that coming.”
He added, “I think we see the future of Muskegon in this space.”
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