Muskegon ‘misfits’ create new, unique entertainment space downtown

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“One of the things we’ve said from day one is, ‘We want to bring people together to live together.’

Regardless of the challenge, Michael Brower said the goal has always remained the same.

“There’s something for everyone,” he said. “They can all get together, make new friends, hang out with their existing friends and really just enjoy life.”

An experience for a group, created by a group.

Michael Brower, Joel Camp and Chad Doan. As Michael likes to call them, “The Muskegon Gang of Misfits,” but together there is nothing out of place.

Pigeon Hill Brewing Company

“We joke that we’re brothers,” Michael said. “The great thing about brothers is that we fight and at the same time we are better than each other.”

Together, they founded the popular Pigeon Hill Brewing Company in 2014. They later added the Brewer’s Lounge Taproom to their collection.

“We are extremely fortunate to work together as well as we do,” said Michael. “I mean, most ownership groups are not family.”

The group took a small craft brewery and turned it into a nationwide success, exporting Muskegon beer to Michigan.

However, the misfits still felt that something was…well…missing.

“Almost all of our team and all of the owners of Pigeon Hill, we live downtown, right in the heart of Muskegon,” Michael said. “We feel like we’re seeing a lot of growth and vibrancy and things to do, but at the same time, there’s still a lack of things to do.”

The Pigeon Hill Brewing Company Brewer's Lounge Taproom team

Pigeon Hill Brewing Company

They spent many sleepless nights brainstorming and brainstorming ideas, always coming back to the same question: “As Muskegon residents, what would we like to have in this area?”

Socibowl is the answer they came up with.

“Putting together this place where Muskegon has kind of a big city that feels right in the heart of our downtown now,” Michael said.

Socibowl is a multi-experience entertainment space with food, drink, darts and yard games all centered around the team’s title – bowling.

Panoramic video view of Socibowl

But not just any bowling alley. They have six lanes for duck bowling, which is a smaller, modern spin on the classic sport.

At the same time, it is also a nod to the original use of this very space.

“This building was built for bowling during the heyday of bowling in America,” Michael said. “Then it was bought by Brunswick, who operated as a test facility, so they actually tested their new equipment here.”

Brunswick Bowling Alley Muskegon

Pigeon Hill Brewing Company

After Brunswick left, the Downtown Development Corporation took over. It became a string of nightclubs before falling apart, according to Michael, until the villains bought it as a production base in Pigeon Hill in 2015.

“Pigeon Hill’s original canned beer came from here,” Michael said. “We knew from the beginning that this was not the tallest and best application for a building right in the middle of our downtown corridor. So we built a new manufacturing facility and started asking ourselves, “What can we do in this space?”

For most, the term “inappropriate” can have a negative connotation. Really, it’s just someone who doesn’t comply. Someone who thinks outside the box.

This is what Michael, Joel and Chad did. They hope their story will inspire others to do the same.

“I think it’s indicative of what’s going to happen in Muskegon,” Michael said. “We took a big city concept and sized it right for Muskegon. I see a lot more of that.”

He added, “I think we’re seeing the future of Muskegon in this space.”

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