Salt Rock Brewing Co., a new brewpub restaurant coming to Lansing later this summer, is a long-term dream finally come true for couple and business partners Donna WIlliams and Steve Kelly.
Kelly and Williams have a long shared history in the brewing and restaurant industries. Kelly spent significant time working as a personal chef in Costa Rica. Williams worked for more than a decade as a waitress, bartender and manager before becoming a nurse. “I like to say that we’re a power couple,” joked Williams.
The initial inspiration for finally purchasing a space and opening their own restaurant came from a chance moment on Williams’ old apartment balcony on Walnut Street, which overlooked much of downtown Lansing. The two noticed the large vacant building on Ionia Street — the longtime former home of Lucille Belen’s flower shop — that is now the home of Salt Rock Brewing Co. After securing the necessary funding and paperwork to purchase the building, Kelly and Williams decided on opening a brewpub and spent an entire summer gathering all of the necessary equipment from various sources across the country. Kelly has managed his own companies before, but this is Williams’ first venture as a business owner.
Kelly said the direction Salt Rock Brewing Co. will take as a brewpub is inspired by some of their favorite restaurants and breweries they have visited during their travels both national and international. Guests at Salt Rock Brewing Co. will be able to enjoy a menu that has a wide range of surf and turf meals, as well as sip on an incredibly diverse menu of beer, wine and spirits that a full brewery is able to provide. Vegan and vegetarian options will be an emphasis for the menu too.
“We want to give Lansing something that they haven’t seen before,” Williams said.
The look of Salt Rock Brewing Co. is inspired by the tough industrial nature of the Midwest, Kelly said. Visual cues include steel and natural Himalayan salt blocks, as the brewpub’s name implies. The building is still undergoing some renovations as it prepares for its grand opening, including the construction of an elaborate logo adorning the main wall. Kelly and Williams expect Salt Rock Brewing Co. to be open to the public in the later summer or early fall.
“We want everybody, all walks of life, to feel comfortable checking us out,” Williams said.