Bell’s Bright Mural Focuses How Much Cafe Area Has Been Reborn
(Image provided by Dream Scene Placemaking.)
As Kalamazoo residents and others, like tourists, begin to return to normal life, a little sprucing up is taking place as part of the welcome back. Bell's Eccentric Cafe has a new mural that is on display on its west side wall, and it's one of the biggest in the city.
This mural project began in mid April and was completed in about a month. It's the creation of Dream Scene Placemaking, with artists Anna Lee Roeder and Erik Vasilauskas. This project was originally planned for March 2020, but was postponed with the pandemic.
What's on the mural is what Bell's says its passionate about: quality ingredients and innovations, and it also has the Brewers Associations’ Independent Seal, which Bell's says "can only be used by breweries who fit the trade group’s definition of small, independent craft brewers".
As the Cafe celebrates it's 28th anniversary, it marks Bell’s as the first Michigan brewery to sell beer by the glass on site since Prohibition.
The Eccentric Cafe has been at that location (Kalamazoo Ave and Porter Street) since the early 1990's. But not many probably could envision what has happened to the immediate area, becoming a sort of "Beer-Muda Triangle", with the Old Dog Tavern, HopCat, and the former Arcadia Ales (whatever that might become), along with the newer 600 Kitchen and Bar, both to the east, and Shakespeare's further west on Kalamazoo Ave. (Who saw a fishing pole factory becoming a major bar?)
Looking at the timeline of the Cafe, all this sent me down a rabbit hole, as I remembered seeing the photo of the Bell's Building, from 1944, when it was a Goodyear Tire store and gasoline station. The Cafe opened in 1993, had a major facelift in 2011 with the addition of the beer garden and the musical venue, and then four years later, the kitchen was added.
(And for those following this rabbit hole: just east of Bell's and next to the plumbing supply business was an A&P Grocery store. Sadly that's now a vacant lot, at Kalamazoo and Walbridge Streets.)
What's interesting is what will happen in the next decade, with the Hard Rock project at the Gibson Guitar factory, the new construction at Water Street, the growth around the oldest bar in tow, Louies at North and Walbridge, not to mention other projects we can't even envision, ywet. The gentrification will be fascinating to watch.