Essence Restaurant Group adds private event spaces



A Grand Rapids restaurant group has opened five private event spaces at three locations to offer safe fine dining experiences for groups in time for the holidays.

James Berg, Essence Restaurant Group managing partner, said Tuesday, Oct. 20, that Essence created the private event spaces by repurposing unused areas at Bistro Bella Vita and The Green Well and transforming the entire former Grove location and former Essence pop-up eatery in East Hills into The Essence Room.

All five spaces — which are now open — will follow strict COVID-19 safety guidelines for guests and staff.

The private event spaces will offer menu items from Bistro Bella Vita and can accommodate small and large groups. In addition, The Essence Room will offer favorites from The Green Well and Jimmy Berger’s, a former Essence pop-up eatery that featured gourmet roasted chicken.

“We’ve had many patrons inquire about having the Essence experience in a more controlled setting, like what private event spaces offer, so we decided to make some adjustments and add more unique options for corporate and personal events,” Berg said. “We’re essentially providing the ‘best of Essence’ with our menus, kitchen team and service staff, while also showcasing some intimate spots at our locations.”

Details on the five locations

The Essence Room

Located in the former Grove Restaurant at 919 Cherry St. SE in East Hills, this private event space accommodates up to 50 people. The space offers a variety of menus featuring a selection of dishes from each Essence restaurant, as well as former favorites. Capacity has been adjusted for COVID-19 safety protocols from the former 100-person capacity. The Essence Room provides a full restaurant set-up, with individual tables and booths that can be arranged in a variety of configurations.

Bistro Bella Vita Private Dining Room

Bistro’s private dining room accommodates up to 40 guests adjacent to Bistro’s main dining room. Regular capacities of 80 for seated events, and 120 for standing, will resume post-COVID-19. The flexible space can accommodate receptions, corporate meetings, parties and more with a range of menu items including small plates, buffet style, custom courses and kids’ items.

VIP Cellar Table

Bistro’s VIP Cellar Table is an intimate setting where hosts can entertain up to 14 guests in their own private corner of the restaurant — ideal for dinner meetings or groups out for a night on the town. Guests can order directly from Bistro’s menu or create a custom menu for the event, and there is no minimum menu charge or room fee.

The Woodrick Room

Located in the building that houses Bistro Bella Vita, the Woodrick Room (a nod to the Woodrick family, the founders of Bistro Bella Vita) is a multi-level private event space with a reception area and a dining or board room that can be set for dinners, corporate meetings, personal events or retreats. The space can accommodate 40 guests in varying arrangements. Bistro’s private dining menu or a custom menu are available.

The Office

The Office is a newly renovated office space transformed into an intimate, private boardroom featuring sunset views. The Office accommodates up to 10 guests with selections from Bistro’s private dining menu, or guests can create a custom menu.

All menu items offered at the private event spaces are created by executive chef Jeremy Paquin and his culinary team, while front-of-house operations are led by event manager Alanna Grant, who also can arrange optional services including floral, decorations, audiovisual equipment, photography and more.

Those interested in learning about add-ons can contact or (616) 222-4600.

More information is available at

Bistro Bella Vita is located at 44 Grandville Ave. SW, Suite 100, Grand Rapids.

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