New downtown Muskegon restaurant, bar planned by owners Dr. Rolf

MUSKEGON, MI — The family that introduced Muskegon to Dr. Rolf’s BBQ is bringing another restaurant downtown.

The Hissom family is planning an “All American” diner with bar that will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

They have the location – on Western Avenue at Fourth Street, a short walk from Dr. Rolf’s – but no name for the new establishment.

Luckily for them, they already have a liquor license. These can be hard to find, but the City of Muskegon Commission agreed in May to award a liquor license from the Downtown Development Authority to the new establishment at 451 W. Western Avenue.

The Hissoms intend to make full use of it. In addition to a horseshoe-shaped bar in the middle of the main dining room, they are planning what Geoffrey Hissom described as a “fairly substantial sized” rooftop bar.

The interior will have around 130 seats and the roof will have a bar and around 80 seats.

The Hissoms expect to appear before the city soon for approval of their plans.

Geoffrey Hissom, who is a director at Dr Rolf’s, is the son of co-owners of the barbecue – and new business – Dr Rolf Hissom and Judy Hissom. His brother, Andrew Hissom, is the manager of Dr. Rolf’s Grand Haven location and will be tapped to run the show at the new location.

Geoffrey Hissom has already started gutting the interior of the building which was recently used as a real estate office and previously housed the Muskegon Chronicle traffic office and a flower shop.

Plans are to keep the exterior mostly unchanged, but to add large garage doors that will open to curbside seating. The city recently expanded sidewalks in the area to encourage outdoor dining.

In total, the investment in the restaurant will be around $1 million, Judy Hissom said. They bought the building in June.

The new restaurant will be right in the center of the booming downtown entertainment district. Next door is Pigeon Hill Brewing Company’s restaurant, tap room and entertainment complex which is under construction.

Across the street is the brand new Legends Bar & Grille, VanDyk Mortgage Convention Center and Mercy Health Arena with two Western Avenue restaurants: Rad Dads’ Tacos & Tequila Bar and the brand new Carlisle’s. Just up the street is the Delta by Marriott Hotel with Walker’s Restaurant as well as the Frauenthal Theater.

And less than half a block in the other direction is Dr. Rolf.

Judy Hissom said on busy nights they turn people away from the restaurant they started in early 2019.

“We still need tables here,” she said of downtown Muskegon. “There’s still business to be had.”

This is especially true for breakfast, where downtown options are limited. Judy Hissom envisions weekend buffet brunches with a Bloody Mary bar, scrambled bowls and homemade cinnamon rolls made to a family recipe.

Lunches will likely be gourmet soups and sandwiches, the latter using some of Dr. Hissom’s recipes and Dr. Rolf’s smoked meat, she said. These include corned beef and an Italian pulled pork sandwich, she said.

The menu remains a work in progress, but Judy Hissom said it will feature local foods and seasonal plates. The family is excited to move beyond barbecue to try other dishes, including Southwestern dishes, she said.

“It will again be a family effort,” she said.

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