By Kayla Sosa
When Terry Rostic, Project Manager at Rockford Construction, decided to open up a brewery, he couldn’t think of a better location than the neighborhood he grew up in: Grand Rapids’ own Boston Square.
“It’s a nice, working-class neighborhood,” Rostic said. “It’s exactly where we wanted to put the brewery.”
The Boston Square Neighborhood is located between Hall Street and Burton Street, with Kalamazoo Avenue running through it. The neighborhood carries a rich history, especially within the black community.
There’s also a rich history for Rostic, and his family. When he was young, his parents moved from the neighborhood to Kentwood, but his grandparents stayed, so he still spent much of his childhood there. He remembers all the local, black-owned businesses that once thrived in the area, like a fresh grocery store, a print shop, churches and a barber shop.
Flash forward to 2019, and Rostic is hoping to bring business back into that community by opening up Boston Square Brewing Company. In doing so, he would be the first to open a black-owned brewery in Michigan.
Rostic wasn’t always a craft beer fan, but when he started to check out breweries around town – specifically Brewery Vivant – he liked the atmosphere inside.
“It was a nice mix of just folks,” Rostic said. “It was a nice gathering place, there was no violence, there was just a lot of camaraderie.”
Rostic wanted to bring that vibe to the neighborhood that was so close to his heart. So, he pitched his business idea at Start Garden’s 100 Ideas event, where anyone can pitch an idea and 100 winners go away with $1,000 to go towards their business ventures.
“We pitched what we wanted to do, which was change the neighborhood; create jobs and diversify the brewing industry,” Rostic said. “The craft brewing industry could use a little diversity, and I just thought this was a perfect opportunity and a great chance.”
Rostic said he is continuing the legacy of black entrepreneurs in the Boston Square neighborhood.
“Boston Square was known historically to have (many) black entrepreneurs,” Rostic said. “There were … all kinds of little shops and things that were African American owned, and it was a very diverse area. It had African Americans, it had white people, it had Hispanics; it was really like a good nucleus. For me, that’s always been home and what felt like the best.”
That’s why it’s important for Rostic to put back into this community.
“As time has went by, the neighborhood has kind of gone down a little bit,” Rostic said. “Some of the owners got older, the buildings have went down, so really I’m hoping this brewery will bring back some more life to there. There’s still life there, but just enhance it more and maybe inspire that next generation of African American business owners back into the neighborhood.”
Rostic is excited to use the brewery as a tool to empower the future generations, as well as bring the community together. He wants to start a scholarship fund to help send kids from the neighborhood to school to learn how to craft brew.
“Yeah, we want to produce really good beer, that’s the main mission,” Rostic said. “But also, breweries are good catalysts for the community.”
It’s significant to Rostic to be making history in a community already built on so much black history.
“We went from a phase, where back in my grandparents’ days, when they were migrating here, either from the south or when they transplanted to Grand Rapids, a lot of them came in and they started businesses,” he said. “They had restaurants, they had little hardware stores, little convenience stores and things like that. My grandparents’ generation really had that entrepreneurial spirit.”
Rostic said because his grandparents worked so hard, the next generation had more of an educational opportunity, but lost that strong entrepreneurial spirit.
“I think my generation … we’ve kind of done the education thing, and now we’re coming back, being more independent,” he said. “We didn’t want to work in a factory or for someone forever. This millennial generation that we’re a part of, we’re a little more bold … We want to get into tech, we want to create more opportunities, we want to be our own bosses.”
Rostic hopes to see the amount of black business owners continue to grow, so that future generations can benefit from and continue those legacies. With two young daughters, this is an important aspect for Rostic.
“There’s going to be that generational wealth,” Rostic said. “That’s something that I’m working hard to do. I want to start this business and pass it down a generation.”
Looking at the next stages for his brewing company, Rostic is still working through the logistics of finding a location and whether to buy or lease. He said his goal is to open in late November. Stay updated on his Facebook page, Boston Square Brewing Company.