Motor City Brewing Works' Livernois taproom debuts on the Avenue of Fashion

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

A longstanding name in Detroit craft beer has been welcomed to the neighborhood on the city's Avenue of Fashion. 

Motor City Brewing Works' Livernois taproom opened this week following a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday at 19350 Livernois in Detroit. The original has stood at 470 W. Canfield in Midtown since the 1990s. 

The microbrewery is known for its popular Ghettoblaster ale, along with seasonal brews, wine, craft soda and brick-oven pizzas.

The new Livernois taproom — which is has a charming, rustic brick exterior with a small courtyard and a lodge-like interior with bar and table seating and a soon-to-be working fireplace — also has beer and pizza, plus burgers and sandwiches and beer-friendly snacks like charcuterie, brick-oven chili, dips and nachos. They're trying to serve cuisine that is beer-friendly but isn't already prominent elsewhere on the strip, like the fried chicken sold at neighboring Kuzzo's Chicken and Waffles across the street. 

Motor City Brewing Works President and Founder John Linardos, with an India Pale Ale, during the Motor City Brewing Works opening on the "Avenue of Fashion" on Livernois, in Detroit, Michigan on July 12, 2021.

"West Canfield is a small brewery with a kitchen as an afterthought, kind of shoehorned in down the road ... this place (on Livernois) is more restaurant-forward with a brewery in the background," said owner John Linardos. Most of the beer sold on Livernois will be from the Canfield location, as the new spot is a "nano-brewery" with a one-barrel system. 

"We’ll just be producing one-off batches, beers-of-the-week kind of thing. And we’ll be inviting homebrewers and guest brewers to play around with some test batches on that system."

The staples on the beer list include Ghettoblaster Ale and Lager, Honey Porter, Nut Brown Ale, an American-style Pale Ale, an IPA and their small-batch hard cider. There are also seasonal and specialty beers and a few cocktails like the Blue Sunshine, a ready-to-drink gin beverage with a punch of fresh basil, blueberry, lemon juice and seltzer.

Linardos opened Motor City Brewing Works at 470 Canfield in 1994. The low-key microbrew has been a popular Cass Corridor hangout ever since, drawing the attention of nearby Wayne State University students, local musicians and artists and even restaurant critics.

This second location has been in the works for several years. Some details were released in 2016 and Linardos said they started construction and restoration of the more than 100-year-old building in 2018. It dates back to the late 1800s and was most recently known as Hunter's Supper Club. 

He says this strip of Livernois has evolved as they've built out the restaurant. 

"The neighborhood has been snowballing the last three years. It’s changed pretty dramatically. Right now a lot of the storefronts are filling in very quickly, there’s a lot of renovation going on on Livernois," he said, adding that he has "mixed emotions" about opening a second Motor City Brewing Works 25 years after the original.

"But when we were looking at what was happening in the industry and where we had our best opportunity for growth in the near future, a second location kind of kept answering those questions."

Detroit City Council member Roy McCalister, Motor City Brewing Works President and Founder John Linardos, City of Detroit, District 2 Manager Kim Tandy, President and CEO of Detroit Economic Growth Corporation Kevin Johnson and Motor City Match Program Manager Drew Lucco after the ribbon cutting ceremony at the second location of the Motor City Brewing Works in Detroit.

Linardos and his team considered looking outside the city since they already have a Detroit location and explored areas like Downriver. Ultimately they decided Detroit was a big enough city for two Motor City Brewing Works, and the walkable area near Seven Mile and Livernois was a good fit. 

"There was a lot of thought that went into this, and it was based on where our hearts are, where the company needed to be and where the most logical opportunities for growth were," he said. 

Hours for the Livernois MCBW will ramp up slowly, starting 4-10 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., 4-11 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and noon-5 p.m. Sun.

Twitter: @melodybaetens