Artists adorn new pub in Detroit with large ‘world-class’ murals

Mural by Fell2000ft. All photos by Steve Neavling
Mural by Fel3000ft. All photos by Steve Neavling

A vacant two-story building in Midtown is undergoing a radical transformation with artfully crafted murals and an award-winning pub and entertainment spot that will serve 130 beers on tap.

Local artists recently began painting the building at Woodward and Canfield as part of a partnership between the 4731 Group, which organizes dozens of world-class murals in the Grand River Creative Corridor, and HopCat, a popular brew pub based in Grand Rapids.    

If all goes as planned, HopCat will open in December.

“This is going to be a community destination unlike anything in Detroit,” said Derek Weaver, principal of 4731 Group, which is curating the art project. “The murals create a fun, vibrant energy.”

Derek Weaver of 4731 Group is curating the mural project.
Derek Weaver of 4731 Group is curating the mural project.

All five of the artists are local – Fel3000ft, Elmer, Malt, Melo and Kobie Solomon.

“This is fine art by world-class artists in Detroit,” Weaver said.

The building has been vacant since Agave restaurant closed about eight years ago. On the same block is a McDonald’s and a longtime vacant lot that is being transformed into a three-story design center for Lawrence Tech University with ground-level retail space.

The HopCat building is the only original structure left on the block, which included the mighty Graystone Ballroom before it was demolished. On the other side of Canfield is the gorgeous Whitney mansion, which is an upscale restaurant with outdoor entertainment.

The HopCat building is historic and used to share a block with the Graystone Ballroom.
The HopCat building is historic and used to share a block with the Graystone Ballroom.

The HopCat owners took pains to preserve the building and erected a two-story extension on the rear that is being adorned with murals. The interior has exposed brick and will be decorated with art.

The building is surprisingly spacious. The first floor features an oval bar, restaurant seating, kitchen and a sizable walk-in cooler with 130 craft beers. The second floor includes a stage, DJ booth, bar, seating and a deck.

HopCat has won awards for its beer selection and is known for its “crack fries.” Its first restaurant opened in Grand Rapids in 2008.

Two murals-in-progress from Kobie Solomon (left) and Malt (right).
Two murals-in-progress from Kobie Solomon (left) and Malt (right).
HopCat is on Woodward near W. Canfield.
HopCat is on Woodward near W. Canfield.
Hundreds of spray paint cans will be used during the project.
Hundreds of spray paint cans will be used during the project.
Unfinished mural by Malt.
Unfinished mural by Malt.
Malt works his magic.
Malt works his magic.
HopCat
First-floor bar.
Mural-in-progress by Melo.
Mural-in-progress by Melo.
The outdoor deck that Elmer will paint.
The outdoor deck that will include a mural by Elmer.
Second floor
Second floor
Refrigerated room for 130 beers on tap.
Refrigerated room for 130 beers on tap.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.