Rock Perks Spotlight: Jolly Pumpkin
By Allie Wittenbach
Jolly Pumpkin, a staple on Grand Rapids’ West Side, was founded by head brewer Ron Jeffries in summer 2004. Since the first brewery opened more than a decade ago, Jolly Pumpkin’s team has poured hours of hard work and ambition into getting where they are today. The result is several successful locations across Michigan, as well as one in Chicago.
Martina Morales, restaurant manager, is very proud of what Jolly Pumpkin has to offer. From sour beers to more traditional brews and options on the menu for everyone to enjoy — several game-changing factors make Jolly Pumpkin a standout on Bridge Street. This local business brings plenty of zest and flavor to the West Side, and we love everything they’re doing for our community through their delicious food and drink options.
We sat down with Martina to discuss Jolly Pumpkin as a business and the company’s connection to the community.
What makes Jolly Pumpkin different from the competition?
We are different in the fact that we take pride in every single product we offer. We make our dough fresh from scratch every day and use our beer in it. We take things to a depth that other places might not — we cut our vegetables fresh each day and shred our cheese each day. It’s the little things like this that separate us from the rest and ultimately makes our food taste better.
As for the beer, we spend a lot of time on it as well. Ron tastes every batch to ensure it is up to par, and if for any reason it isn’t, we figure out what to do with it and move on to making a fresh batch. Extra time, patience and attention to detail are crucial — we aim for consistency in taste and quality in every batch.
What’s your favorite thing about operating a business in Grand Rapids?
The community. I was born and raised in GR. I grew up on [the West Side] long before any of this ever existed. It has been such an amazing experience to be a part of this up-and-coming neighborhood and to be part of this community. Not only are we a part of the student community, but we’re also a part of the West Side, along with what I like to call “Beer Alley.” We are also part of the pizza and beer community over here with our friends from New Holland Brewing and Harmony Hall. We feel so grateful for all that this community has done for us and we try to repay that whenever we can. We recently threw a pizza party for the Bridge Street Market not only because we love them but also because we could not do what we do without them and our other West Side neighbors.
Our West Side is incredible. I don’t think my family or I could have ever imagined this would happen to this side of town. In the past, it seemed like there were only a few people who gave [the West Side] some love, but now it is thousands — we are a destination neighborhood. I love that the West Side is a place people can come for a little bit of everything and that it’s also a place that feels like home.
What’s the most satisfying part about serving your customers and the community?
Teaching. Giving them knowledge. I think a lot of people see Jolly Pumpkin as “the sour beer brewery.” They may not know a lot about sour beer, but they take a chance on us anyway. And our staff is so amazing at giving people more information than they had when they walked in the door. They are walking out with new ideas about sour beer, other types of beer and even pizza. We have some funky pizzas on our menu — some things that maybe other people wouldn’t think of, and I think we push it right to the edge. We want people to learn and to understand the process that our food goes through to get to that point. So, I think the most satisfying part on our end is being able to share our knowledge about beer and about food with our customers.
Why did you join the Rock Perks program? What benefits has it brought to your business and your customers?
We wanted to join Rock Perks to see more of the community. We see a lot of people from the businesses around here, but it was very important for us to be able to interact with the local community. Being a part of the Rock Perks program gives us this opportunity every day, and we are seeing more faces from our community than we were before because of it.
What’s on the horizon for Jolly Pumpkin?
There is a lot on the horizon … in fact, we just broke the horizon with our new menu. We are offering more healthy-focused options along with some new, unique things for our customers.
Looking toward the future, we are going to continue to push the envelope and bring the Jolly Pumpkin funk and flavor to the West Side. If you follow our social media, you can see all the events and specials taking place. We really try to be a little unusual; we want you to know we are here!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I think it is nice for the community to know that yes, we are known for our sour beer and our pizza, but we have a lot of different options. We have non-sour beer, cider, wine and things that people may not know about. We cater to dietary restrictions and have something for everyone. We want this to be a place everyone can enjoy – and I think we are doing that for our customers!
As a Rockford Property Management resident, member of Blue35 or Rockford Construction team member, you have access to the Rock Perks program, which will get you 15% off your food purchase at Jolly Pumpkin. To take advantage of the discount, just present your Rock Perks card. Don’t have a Rock Perks card yet? Consider joining us as a resident.