The Grand Rapids City Commission approved two new social districts at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4.
A Social District is an area designated by the City Commission where alcoholic beverages sold by multiple qualified establishments may be consumed by purchasers in a shared, specifically designated social zone, such as a seating area on a street or sidewalk or on City-owned property, like a parking lot or park. People can walk freely within the district with alcohol purchased from a participating bar or restaurant.
The new East Fulton Social District (Fulton Street, from Union to Carleton) includes Buffalo Traders Lounge, Post Off Wine Bar and Danzon Cubano, according to a press release from the City of Grand Rapids. (Danzon is now occupied by Los Amigos Cantina. It is not clear whether the new establishment is included in the social zone).
The second approval was for East Hills Social District (Cherry Street, from Eastern to Diamond; Lake Drive, from Eastern to Luton; Diamond Avenue from Fulton to Wealthy). The businesses included in this district are: Paddock Place, Meanwhile, Pickwick, Grove, Greenwell, Brewery Vivant, Less Traveled and Maru.
According to City of Grand Rapids Media Relations Manager, Steven J. Guitar, social districts were first implemented in mid-2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic when restaurants, bars and other operations had to close inside dining.
“We continue to rebound from the pandemic in a way that gives residents and visitors the opportunity to revisit their favorite Grand Rapids locales,” Mayor Rosalynn Bliss said in a press release. “These spaces have added unique vibrancy to many business districts and have helped restaurants and lounges rebound and thrive.”
As part of the City’s policy, the police department, fire department and many other City departments must review and approve of social districts before they are recommended for approval.
According to the press release Grand Rapids leads the State of Michigan with nine dedicated social districts and 63 participating businesses. These social districts include: Downtown Grand Rapids, Creston, East Fulton, East Hills, Fourth & Stocking, Michigan Street, Wealthy Street, West Fulton, and West Leonard.
Are there any downsides to the Social Districts? “We have not seen any issues related to the implementation of social districts,” Guitar said.