Restaurant opens in former Marie Catrib’s

Kingfisher Restaurant and Deli dish on table

A new “vegetable-forward,” Mediterranean-influenced restaurant has taken up residence in the former Marie Catrib’s.

Husband-and-wife co-owners Joel Wabeke and Sarah Wepman — who also own That Early Bird Café and Littlebird — opened Kingfisher Restaurant and Deli last week at 1001 Lake Dr. SE in the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids.

“We’re thrilled to be here,” Wepman said. “It’s been our neighborhood for a long time, and we’re thrilled to be part of the East Hills community.”

The restaurant — which is currently open for breakfast, brunch and lunch — offers starters, omelets, bowls and hash, soups and salads, toast and sandwiches, sweets and pastries and sides.

Many of the offerings are available to be made vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.

Wepman said Kingfisher’s goal is to make “seasonal vegetables the focus of the plate,” but the restaurant also offers “high-quality meats and seafoods.”

Its cuisine is inspired by the entire Mediterranean region, Wepman said, from north Africa to Turkey to southern Europe.

Wabeke and Wepman are moving their pastry-making operations for That Early Bird Café and Littlebird to the kitchen at Kingfisher.

The couple made minor cosmetic upgrades to the restaurant, hiring Mark Weaver, of Greenwood Studio, to make décor and furniture changes.

He will eventually build a small wood bar for Kingfisher, similar to the one he made for Littlebird.

In addition to co-owning Kingfisher, Wabeke is the restaurant’s executive chef.

Liz Deubner is general manager.

The restaurant has hired 32 employees so far and is still hiring.

In a month or two, Kingfisher will open a deli in the space formerly occupied by Marie’s delicatessen, and before winter, the owners expect to have a liquor license and will then add dinner service.

Its hours are currently 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday. With dinner service, Wepman said the hours will likely expand to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on Saturday.

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