One of downtown Grand Rapids' nightlife hot spots has a new owner with new plans for the historic building.

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Wood TV 8 reports that MJW Real Estate Holdings LLC has purchased J. Gardella’s Tavern at 11 Ionia Ave. SW for $1.1 million.

The popular hangout known as simply "Gardella's" or even "Della's" (or was it just my friends and I who called it that back in the day?) featured three floors for imbibing, with a 125-year hand-crafted bar on the main floor and a dance club on the top floor. The Rabideau brothers owned and operated J. Gardella’s for more than two decades before the bar permanently closed last year.

In early 2020, J. Gardella's Tavern was put up for sale. A couple who wanted to purchase the bar had plans to turn the oldest storefront in historic downtown Grand Rapids into The Meat Up Gastropub, a lounge-style pub that served Argentian cuts of meat, ceviche, and fusion dishes... and then the pandemic hit.

Michael Winks, who is behind MJW Real Estate Holdings LLC, tells Wood TV 8 he's been considering purchasing J. Gardella’s Tavern since February, when he'd learned those buyers had backed out.

So what are his plans for J. Gardella's Tavern?

Winks tells Wood TV 8  he'll be renovating the Arena District bar and launching a new bar and restaurant concept.

While he didn't elaborate,

Winks said the business will utilize all three levels of the building. He said the restaurant will have a totally different look and feel while honoring the character of the historic building.

Winks will serve as the investor while a local operator will run the restaurant under another LLC registered to Winks, Rooted Fox Ventures:

Winks said he’s excited about the partnership but is not quite ready to announce who it’s with.

Renovations have yet to begin, but Winks says he hopes to open the new establishment next year.

What kind of bar/ restaurant would you like to see open at the former J. Gardella's Tavern?

This will be another change to downtown's nightlife scene, with The B.O.B. also under new ownership soon and its current bars and restaurants closing.

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