A 43-year-old pizza joint in Rockford is getting new life as a updated restaurant, brewery, and distillery.

MiBiz reports that nearby Rockford Brewing Company now owns Vitale's Pizza inside the historic building at 42 E. Bridge St. and plans to open it as Malph's Pizza Pub, named after one of their beers.

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RBC bought Vitale's in May of 2020, during the first wave of the pandemic.

Rockford Brewing co-founder Seth Rivard tells MiBiz the timing worked out well because the Paycheck Protection Program allowed RBC to bring on board of all of Vitale's employees. They also used the time to put in new point of sale systems and integrate the operation under the Rockford Brewing. Rivard tells MiBiz,

We were planning to buy it and as COVID hit, we were still negotiating. We decided it was now or never, and now was the best time to buy because we had the extra resources to start working on it.

During the past year, they've continued to operate the restaurant as Vitale's and recently began the process of renovating the building.

RBC has launched a kickstarter campaign to help with the process of opening the new concept, Malph's Pizza Pub. Built in 1866, they say parts of the building are in rough shape. The goal is to "ensure the building is ready for the next 150 years by bringing it up to code, expanding its kitchen, adding a distillery and brewery, and adding some great outdoor seating options overlooking the White Pine Trail and downtown Rockford."

According to Grand Rapids Business Journal, Malph's menu will "feature some of the favorite recipes from the past 43 years along with a host of new items already being developed by the RBC culinary team." You can actually order some of the menu items now for takeout or delivery.

They are aiming to have renovation complete by spring of 2023.

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