Mertens Hospitality reopens renamed downtown restaurant

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Courtesy Mertens Hospitality

Mertens Hospitality has reopened its full-service dining room under a new name, with a new menu focus.

Anthony Tangorra, owner of the Grand Rapids-based restaurant company Mertens Hospitality, on Friday reopened the former New Hotel Mertens Brasserie as Mertens Prime. It will retain many of the French characteristics and dishes of the former, while adding a selection of steaks and chops.

The restaurant, which opened in 2017, is located at 35 Oakes St. SW in downtown Grand Rapids. It had been closed since March due to the pandemic. Grand Rapids Magazine reported in July that Tangorra was planning to rename and rebrand the restaurant and its sister properties.

“After three years, it was clear the use of the word ‘hotel’ was causing confusion in the community. However, we will continue to honor the history of our building and the hotel that was founded here in 1914 in a way that our guests will feel when they dine with us,” Tangorra said.

“We are steadfast in our desire to not change who we are at our core and to retain our French menu and sensibilities. When you choose a steak at Mertens Prime, it will be done with a flair and polish unique to the area.”

The new Mertens Prime menu features Chateaubriand for two; which is a hand-cut, 25-ounce beef tenderloin, carved tableside. 

Returning menu items include the Mertens rolling cheese cart, which offers tableside hand-cut European cheeses; the veal-bone broth French onion soup; and steak tartare. 

Other dishes on previous Mertens menus have been revised, including the escargot, which now features farm-raised fresh snails shipped overnight from rural New York state. 

Mertens Prime happy hour, aka Mertens Froggy Hour, runs from 4-6 p.m. daily starting Wednesday and features many drink specials, plus the addition of deep-fried frog legs for $2.50 each.

In homage to its history, Tangorra said Mertens Prime will continue to offer its list of 50 cocktails that replicate the New Hotel Mertens cocktail list circa 1939. The restaurant also will continue to expand its displays of early 20th century Grand Rapids hotel history, with special attention given to New Hotel Mertens.

Mertens Prime is open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner starting at 4 p.m. Brunch and other services may be added at a later date. Reservations can be made at mertensprime.com

Tangorra also owns and operates out of that building Mertens Rooftop, a rooftop lounge and bar that continues to be open for the season; and Café Mertens, which reopened Sept. 28 adjacent to Mertens Prime on the ground level and serves beignets (warm French doughnuts), fries and a wide selection of poutine.

Details on all of the venues can be found at mertensgr.com.

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