Rockford gobbles up slices of old fashioned pub pizza


All of the $ 16,000 and up raised on Kickstarter will go towards renovations, but the sum is really just a drop in the bucket of the estimated $ 1 million renovation project. Courtesy of Rockford Brewing Company

(Watch this story on WZZM 13 TV Monday morning) After being broadcast live for about a week, Rockford Brewing Company’s Kickstarter campaign to involve the community in its restoration of the historic 1866 building is now over. Today, Malph’s Pizza Pub takes another step into the glory days of Rockford Brewing.

At the time of going to press, the project had not yet landed a general contractor itself. Rockford Brewing co-owner Seth Rivard said the brewery has actually done much of the renovation and demolition itself so far.

The entire architecture of the project is complete. The team must repair and add footings to upgrade the old building. In addition, the second floor must be completely removed and rebuilt.

“Things like that are more work than expected, but we knew it would be a lot,” Rivard said.

All of the $ 16,000 and up raised on Kickstarter will go towards renovations, but the sum is really just a drop in the bucket of the estimated $ 1 million renovation project. Rivard said it was just a way to get the community involved and win fun prizes in the process.

The majority of the funding will come from long-term Rockford Brewing staff who are invested in the business, as well as long-time and first-time investors. Rivard predicted that the project will not require any bank financing.

“The Kickstarter is probably going to represent less than 1% of the funding,” Rivard said. “But we’re glad the community is thrilled to get involved… there are a lot of Rockford history buffs here.”

The original building existed even before the Rockford name was established for the city, Rivard said. The town was first named Laphamville in honor of Smith Lapham, one of the area’s first settlers in the mid-19th century, before becoming the village of Rockford in June 1866 with just 315 residents.

“All these guys who founded the city and various businesses, they only built a few structures that are still standing, and this one is one of them,” Rivard said.

The more than 150 year old building has seen previous life as Rockford’s first hotel, boarding house, and various shops and restaurants. Most recently, it was the home of Rockford’s Vitale’s Pizza for the past 40 years.

Many existing parts of the building have been added over the years. The original was built in 1866, and 20 years later a second party bought it and doubled in size. At the back of the building is a small 1940s addition that was poorly constructed. Rivard said Rockford Brewing plans to remove it completely, and in its place would be the new brewery / distillery and a rooftop terrace.

The renovated 5,764 square foot pizzeria will feature two separate bars and panoramic views of the historic Rogue River Dam and downtown Rockford. The building plans also feature expansive outdoor seating with a large beer garden / patio and raised deck.

Malph’s menu will continue to feature some of the favorite recipes from the past 43 years as well as a host of new items already developed by RBC’s culinary team.

Rivard said Rockford Brewing Co. would remain at 12 E. Bridge Street NE, and Malph’s Pizza Pub would exist to serve a different population, dating back to when Rockford Brewing first opened.

“Originally when we opened we didn’t have any food and Vitale provided us with pizzas,” Rivard said. “When we decided to open the kitchen, we opted instead for a gastro pub type menu. We hired chefs to come up with creative dishes, and we got a whole new demographic of foodies. Making something like the pizza place is going to recapture some of those glory days that people enjoy. “

Adding an on-site distillery will also be a game-changer, Rivard said. His business partner and Rockford Brewing co-founder Jeff Sheehan will put his talents as a distiller to good use. Sheehan was involved in the early days of New Holland Brewing Co. when this company began to distill spirits.

Malph’s Pizza Pub is expected to welcome customers in the spring of 2023, but Rivard has said he hopes it will be done sooner, depending on which investment partners and entrepreneurs the project lands on.

Follow Malph’s progress on and on Facebook and Instagram, @MalphsPizzaPub.

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