Although it’s one of the oldest bars in the city, Grand Rapids’ Kuzzins Lounge has really cranked up the volume over the past six months.
Now under new ownership, management and booking, the late-night hotspot has emerged as a loud part of West Michigan’s ever-expanding live music scene.
The venue began hosting live music on Friday and Saturday nights back in January, with local punk outfits The Westside Rebellion, Bloody Lips, Feral Frankensteins and Maggie May christening the stage.
“It was a punk rock show for the books, and came complete with mosh pits and crowd surfing,” said booking/stage manager Joseph Henry.
The venue made the decision earlier this year to change its name from Kuzzins Lounge to 741 to begin disconnecting itself from its recent past. It plans to officially operate as 741 starting this month.
Known for its characteristic domed ceilings, Kuzzins Lounge has a long history, going back to its days as the Silver Cloud Bar. Blues music had a longtime home there, from the 1950s all the way until the ’90s, when the bar changed ownership.
Last summer, following an IRS audit that resulted in the conviction of longtime owners Michael and Brian Farah, the bar changed hands again, with Kevin Farhat and Third Coast Development taking over at the location, as well as Drake’s (now Garage Bar South, 819 Ottawa Ave. NW) and Graydon’s Crossing (1223 Plainfield Ave. NE).
Having helped reinvent the old Teazer’s Bar into Garage Bar & Grill (819 Ottawa NW), Farhat took on the challenge of remaking Kuzzins, and less than six months into the project, brought on general manager Adam Jones, who began assembling a team.
“When Adam took the position, the intention was to host local bands from the start,” Henry said. “We shook the place up a little bit, but we feel like it’s been for the better. There are folks who have been stopping into this bar since before we were born, and truth be told, I think quite a few of them like seeing us breathe new life into the place.”
Putting together his first show in less than two weeks, Henry worked with Nait Mainerd in building the venue’s sound booth and finding the right gear for their budget. Along with Aimee Warren, who Henry describes as their resident “bar mom,” the team came over together, having previously worked together at Mulligan’s Pub (1518 Wealthy St. SE).
“There is an incredible local music culture in Grand Rapids, in all genres, but we really have a passion for the punk rock and heavy metal scene, and want to build a place where they can have great shows, along with attracting the attention of working-class touring bands as a place they can feel is a destination where they’re excited to perform, and people are excited to see them,” Henry said.
In addition to hosting live music on Friday and Saturday nights, the 180-person capacity bar also has four Diamond pool tables and happy hour drink specials, Tuesday through Saturday, as well as specials all day Monday and Tuesday.
“We want 741 to be a place where you can get a drink that doesn’t break the bank,” Henry said. “Grand Rapids is full of fancy bars. It feels like there’s a brewery on every corner. We are something different from that. We hope to be a venue that brings a talented mixture of local and touring bands together on the same stage, where they can build relationships that allow them to take their talent further.
“This should be a place where every neighbor, be they punks and metalheads or anyone else, feels like they can come have a drink, see a show and know that we are just like them.”