Essence Restaurant Group to reopen Grove next week

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A popular Grand Rapids eatery will reopen next week just under two years after closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Essence Restaurant Group said it will reopen Grove restaurant on Wednesday, Feb. 23.

The reimagined and completely renovated dining destination is at 919 Cherry St. SE in Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood.

It will reopen with a refreshed menu, redesigned interior and deeper focus on sustainability while continuing to provide the culinary creativity and dining experience for which it was known.

The restaurant first opened in 2011 as one of the region’s first farm-to-table dining concepts. Grove quickly became a foodie-favorite for its local sourcing, unique menu items and intimate dining experience. The restaurant closed on March 16, 2020, due to COVID. Essence used the space for a temporary chicken carryout concept, Jimmy Berger’s Chicken Shack, but Essence Managing Partner James Berg said he always planned to bring back the Grove concept; it was just a matter of when.

“We’ve had two years to explore the country’s culinary hot spots and analyze dining trends, so I’m incredibly excited to showcase what we’ve learned with this next chapter of Grove,” Berg said.

Grove will be led by General Manager Hillary Edwards and Essence Restaurant Group Executive Chef Jeremy Paquin and his Grove chef team Chris North and Devon Cook. Tristan Walczewski, Essence beverage director and a level three sommelier, will oversee the craft cocktail, wine and beer selections alongside Josh Nicholson, bar manager.

Aside from a transformed interior space that will offer a modern, open dining room with more natural light and lighter colors, the most notable change to Grove will be the menu. While still adhering to its farm-to-table philosophy, Paquin and his team have crafted a new menu centered around seasonal produce and sustainably raised proteins from local family farms and vendors.

“Food has a story to tell,” Paquin said. “We are going to present food in the most natural way possible, with limited ingredients to maximize the natural flavors.”

Berg said he and Paquin spent time exploring the country to glean ideas.

“Having time to assess the future of dining allowed us to venture to places like Chicago and New York to research what the hottest contemporary trends are on the menus,” Berg said. “We learned a lot, but those visits really helped support the approach we’ve taken at Grove, and that’s telling the story of the food and inviting the consumer to experience and appreciate the natural flavors.”

The new beverage selections will build on previous offerings and include new ones. Walczewski is creating “smart cocktails,” many of which are low or zero alcohol.

Grove also hired Katy Waltz, pastry chef, to build the dessert menu. Waltz created pastries for area establishments MudPenny, Brewery Vivant and Thousand Oaks Golf Club.

Grove will have seating for 86 people. Reservations are recommended.

To start, Grove will be open 4-9 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

More information is at groverestaurant.com.

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