Bar Design Niche: Pop-Up - Larkin Beer Garden

Last year, the Michigan Baseball Foundation, a nonprofit organization that owns and operates a minor league baseball team in Midland, started an economic initiative to build up and enhance the downtown, which houses the ballpark.

Part of that initiative was a pop-up — The Larkin Beer Garden —fabricated from a shipping container, says program manager Chelsea Rowley.

What was the strategy behind the pop-up bar?

CR: We were looking to create a place where people could gather and interact socially. Pop-up beer gardens seemed like a quick and cheap means of doing that, so we started exploring examples across the country. They are starting to pop up all over. One inspiration was Quartyard Craft Beer Garden in San Diego, which has bars and an event stage fabricated from three shipping containers.

What is the setup?

CR: We had a shipping container converted into a walk-up bar that sits in a parking lot downtown. There are picnic tables for people to sit, bike racks, and yard games like jumbo Jenga, Connect Four and Corn Hole. The beer garden is only open in the summer, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. It’s truly a pop-up — if you were to drive by any other time, it would look like just a parking lot because everything is stored inside the container.

How is the vibe?

CR: There’s live music. It’s a multigenerational entertainment and community gathering place. Larkin Beer Garden is open to people of all ages. Pets are welcome, too.

How does it operate?

CR: The Michigan Baseball Foundation shares its license and staff from the ballpark catering department. Three craft brews are offered on tap, plus a variety of canned beer and bottled water. Rotating food trucks from a local coalition park there to provide food.

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