The old house at 2000 Forbes Street in Riverside’s Five Points district is undergoing a transformation.
If all goes according to plan, in spring 2019, this 1923 Craftsman home turned shop will be reborn as Spirit Animal, an ambitious venue combining beer and wine bar, package store, and dessert eatery.
Spirit Animal’s owners are a trio of siblings with a long business history in the neighborhood: James Robison, Jack Robison, and Anna Michal. James and Jack opened neighborhood staple Grassroots Natural Market on Park Street in 2006, just after James graduated from the University of North Florida.
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Anna has worked at Grassroots as well, but Spirit Animal marks her first venture as a business owner. “It’s exciting. A little nerve wracking, but I’m excited to partner with them,” said Anna.
The idea for Spirit Animal grew out of a business trip to Austin, Texas, where a storm fittingly trapped the Robisons on Rainey Street, a popular strip where historic Craftsman residences have been given second lives as bars.
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This got them thinking about the Forbes Street property - located just around the block from Grassroots - and the prospect of opening a bar together. The concept and name came from there. “We were thinking about what kind of bar would we three like? What kind of bar would be our spirit animal?” said James. When the building became available, they didn’t hesitate.
The plan is ambitious. The owners plan to move Grassroots’ entire beer and wine selection over to Spirit Animal, which will also feature a bar with 30 craft beer taps and wine for in-house consumption.
Growler fills will accompany bottles and cans for those who prefer their libations at home. The taps will allow for a wider selection than is currently available at Grassroots. “That’s one of the nice things,” said Jack. “Breweries may not bottle or can certain things, but sometimes you can get a really cool, funky beer on draft.
It’s more of a specialty thing.” In contrast to Five Points’ many dinner destinations, the menu will focus on appetizers and deserts - in particular pie. “A menu driven largely by appetizers and pies, emphasizing local seasonal ingredients, will be a highlight of the whimsical Spirit Animal experience, and should pair nicely with a rotating selection of craft beers and wines,” said Anna.
The developers hope to open Spirit Animal in spring 2019.