Madison may become home for new West Gorham Street bar

A new bar may find a home in Madison’s campus area as early as June of next year if city officials continue to move the project through the approval process.

Representatives from Barfly Ventures, the home company for the HopCat bar chain looking to open the business, spoke with Madison’s Urban Design Commission members about redesigning the clothing store Bop, located at 222 W. Gorham St., into a contemporary alehouse. UDC members received the plans with enthusiasm and unanimously approved the project to move forward in the permitting process.

Despite the positive approval from UDC members and city officials that Barfly representatives have spoken with, Mayor Paul Soglin has expressed opposition to adding more bars to State Street, according to the Isthmus. Soglin believes the influx of cafes and bars in the area drive business away from retailers.

“We have letters of support from the mayors in East Lansing and Grand Rapids, talking about the aspects of our business they like — being a restaurant and bar,” Chris Knape, marketing and communications director for Barfly, said.

The Madison bar will be an addition to HopCat’s current Michigan and Indiana locations that each feature locally and internationally brewed craft beers and food from local produce companies, according to Knape.

“Our hallmark is ‘the local 30,’” Knape said. “We feature over 30 local beers on tap and we also have rotating, rare … stuff that we can’t keep on all the time, so we’ll see a lot of that as well.”

Designs for the new bar are focused on increasing activity on West Gorham Street with a primarily glass exterior facing the street, incorporated with collapsible windows.

Architects working with Barfly Ventures designed a first floor bar that will seat approximately 350 people with a state-of-the-art draft system. Architects also plan to create a second floor for an additional rooftop bar that will seat approximately 100 patrons.

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