Gypsy Nickel Lounge not affected by Baldwin Street Bridge closure

PLANNING AHEAD: Chris Mullins, Gypsy Nickel Lounge co-owner, expects slower traffic during lunch time in the summer, but does not see business being greatly affected by the Baldwin Street Bridge closing during the summer. (Pioneer photo / Dan Meloy)

PLANNING AHEAD: Chris Mullins, Gypsy Nickel Lounge co-owner, expects slower traffic during lunch time in the summer, but does not see business being greatly affected by the Baldwin Street Bridge closing during the summer. (Pioneer photo / Dan Meloy)

BIG RAPIDS — Drinks were flowing, laughs were shared and a good time was had by all.

Tuesday night was just a regular Trivia Night for Gypsy Nickel patrons, and the staff didn’t seem to notice the impact of the construction happening a half mile away.

The closure of the Baldwin Street Bridge did not have much of an effect on one of the bar’s main attractions, but co-owner Chris Mullins is not too sure if that will be a sign of things to come in the summer.

“Last night was a very good night for us, because it was trivia night,” Mullins said. “I’m more worried about how it affects business in the summer, when the bridge will be down for six months.”

The Baldwin Street Bridge is expected to be closed from late spring until November, forcing area businesses to adjust their plans for the summer.

For now, the Gypsy Nickel plans on maintaining its lunch hours come March, opening at 11 a.m. But Mullins warns that if foot traffic is low during the daytime, he may have to cut back hours.

“We normally serve lunch at 11 a.m. in the summer, but we’ll play it by ear and see how it goes,” Mullins said. “People who come here to enjoy our craft beer and cocktails are still going to come here, but it is the lunch crowd that I fear we might lose.”

In addition to possibly cutting lunch hours, Mullins is considering having the Gypsy Nickel start delivering and catering lunches for businesses instead of being open during lunch hours. The staff also plans on expanding the bar’s advertising campaign during the summer.

Mullins has been in contact with the city for more than two years regarding the project, and said city leaders have done a good job keeping him informed and accommodating the Gypsy Nickel’s needs.

But Mullins is worried about the proposed detour that will take traffic past other bars and restaurants.

“If you go through the detour, you will drive past five places where you can eat and drink,” Mullins said. “People are going to worry about navigating the detour during the daytime, when traffic is the busiest.”

Mullins estimates that customers will have to drive an extra five minutes to get to the Gypsy Nickel during the night, but seven to eight minutes during the day.

“There is always the possibility that people will not want to deal with the detour when they are leaving here,” Mullins said. “But if we are pulling people in from 20 minutes out, I don’t think the extra three minutes will hurt us.”

The timing of the construction is the biggest worry for the bar, as staff is concerned that if the bridge is closed in May, it could interfere with Ferris State University graduation, normally the busiest night of the season for the Gypsy Nickel.

Mullins said he spoke with other Big Rapids business owners, and reported they are are split on whether or not the bridge closure will have a major impact on business in the city.

“I for one like to think of it as a chance to really draw in the people who are on the eastside of the river,” Mullins said.

Staff is anticipating the upcoming changes, but look forward to the final outcome.

“We are anticipating what it will look like when it is finished,” Mullins said.

“We know it is necessary, so we are going to make the best of it. I’m more excited about what it is going to look like for this side of town when it’s completed, and how it’s going to be good for us.”

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