MUSKEGON, Mich — Wonderland Distilling began crafting small batch sprits at a Muskegon production facility in 2018. Then on Oct. 19, following a year of renovations at a former grocery store in Muskegon's Lakeside Neighborhood, the company opened its cocktail bar.
Located at 1989 Lakeshore Drive, the cocktail bar serves handcrafted cocktails, created using exclusively Wonderland spirits, along with locally-sourced small plates focused on local ingredients.
The longtime dream for co-founders Mark Gongalski and Allen Serio never included closing indoor service only a few weeks after opening the cocktail bar.
But that's what happed to all Michigan bars and restaurants due to a three-week COVID-19 restriction closing indoor dining.
"We had grand ambitions of how everything was going to work," said Serio. "And life just happens."
And the timing couldn't have been worse for bars and restaurants in the state. The night before Thanksgiving is one of the best of the entire year.
"Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the biggest bar night of the year," he said.
Serio's vision of 150 customers packed into the cocktail bar will have to wait until next year.
"I'd be lying if I said we weren't really hoping we were going to be able to have that revenue coming in," he said.
Instead of rolling up the carpet, the cocktail bar is rolling it out for take out, and curb-side customers ordering take out food, canned cocktails to go, and take home cocktail kits.
"We were ready the very first day to pivot to that," he said.
Wonderland Distilling will be open on Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Sunday too. Serio is hopeful sales of the new business's merchandise and gift cards is strong during the three-week break from indoor service.
"We're doing the best we can," he said. "Ya know nobody is really flourishing when you have restrictions like this."
The cocktail bar seats about 149 people under normal operating conditions, and approximately 74 guests socially spaced at 50 percent capacity.
The bar's regular hours are Sunday noon-9 p.m., Monday through Thursday from 3-10 p.m., Friday 3-11 p.m. and Saturday noon-11 p.m. Parking is available on Lakeshore Drive in front of the building, or behind the building, in the lot accessible from Moon and Mann Streets.
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