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Brite Eyes Aims to Brew Up Creativity

Brite Eyes logo

A love of beer and creativity and a leap of faith. That's what it took for Brian and Shelby Pierce of Portage to create Brite Eyes Brewing Company Cafe and Brewhouse.

The soon-to-be opened establishment is located at 1156 S. Burdick Street in Kalamazoo and will feature an artisan quality, deli style menu and espresso drinks in addition to hand-crafted microbrews.

"The whole thrust is to be the home of creativity here in Kalamazoo," said Brian Pierce, the establishment's managing member and brewmaster. "Kalamazoo really embraces the creatively minded. They are welcomed here. I'm really enjoying being a part of that group."

Creativity found at Brite Eyes will extend beyond the menu and rotating beer selection and incorporate aspects of d cor, collaboration, and merchandising.

After participating in eight Art Hops in 2013 and 2014 in the Park Trades Center offering tastings, Pierce said participation in the Art Hops as a venue is a priority for Brite Eyes. Artists will be invited to display their artwork for a month after each event and sell their works through a consignment arrangement.

A corner of the establishment will also be dedicated to locally made products and merchandise.

"Our merchandise area is really Kalamazoo's merchandise area," he said.

The brewing and culinary staff at Brite eyes will also work with local chefs and brewmasters from other breweries to create truly one-of-a-kind, limited edition offerings.

In essence, the establishment will be reinvented every month Pierce said.

"We want it to feel like a new experience every time you come in," he said, "and embrace that creativity."

Resourcefulness and the idea of reinvention are also found in Brite Eyes' name and the inclusion of deli and espresso offerings.

"The name speaks to the idea that we want this place to be light and bright. It also speaks to the coffee house feel," Pierce said.

The spelling of "brite" incorporates the idea of brewing since brite tanks are used in brewing beer.

Welcoming and catering to non-beer drinkers as well as microbrew enthusiasts is also an important staple of Brite Eyes' sound, yet creative business model.

While Brian enjoys brewing and making beer, Shelby does not drink. The couple wanted to create a space where they both could feel comfortable and enjoy spending time with or without alcohol while feeling a part of the larger community.

Feeling comfortable and engaged in the community is something Pierce said he longed for growing up in South Bend.

"I was a creative, young person, a hippie," he said. "I wanted a scene and couldn't find it there."

After meeting Shelby, Pierce decided to move to Kalamazoo in 2006 to be with her. The couple was married in 2007 and has a daughter and son.

Brite Eyes Brian and Shelby

Pierce found the attitude in the Kalamazoo community welcoming.

"They embrace imagination in this area," he said. "It's very unique. It's sort of celebrated."

Pierce said that sort of celebration and unique attitude have helped Brite Eyes to come to fruition as he has developed collaborative and cooperative relationships with many area breweries.

"I appreciate that," Pierce said. "Having been in retail, I'm used to things being cut throat."

The collaborative nature is built on the fact that Brite Eyes is not trying to compete with existing breweries, but rather find their own niche within the community.

Pierce offers this piece of advice to other potential business start-ups.

"Make sure you know exactly what your business is," he said. "It's the same for any business. If you can't differentiate yourself, neither will your customers."

Although excitement for the brewery and the creativity it will house has been free flowing the pace has not.
"The pace has been just brutal," said Pierce, who previously worked at Lowe's Home Improvement in Kalamazoo and later Battle Creek for a total of eight years prior to resigning in February 2014 to focus on opening Brite Eyes.

"It was all a part of the master plan to get back to Kalamazoo," he said. "I've made some risky moves with my 401K, but it has truly paid off."

Each day Brite Eyes gets one step closer to opening its doors. Pierce said he is hoping to open the business as soon as possible.

Brite Eyes

"Because we are as much of a coffee house as a brewery, we'll do a soft open," Pierce said.

"We won't have a grand opening until we can toast with a beer," he said.

Stay tuned for more updates regarding their opening!

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