Flying high

    The Little Bird works to push dinner offerings.
    Photo by Stacy Feyer-Salo

    Since The Little Bird opened in 2017, the restaurant has made a name for itself with its brunch.

    Dinner at The Little Bird, 95 Monroe Center St. NW, always has been part of the plans — hence development of the bar area, said General Manager Christian Stachel. But the brunch reputation took precedent, so after reopening the restaurant in November 2021 following a COVID-19 pause, it was limited to breakfast and lunch hours. The Little Bird, it should be noted, is owned by Sarah Wepman and Joel Wabeke, who also own Eastown eateries That Early Bird and Quarantino’s.

    “It was streamlined because we wanted to grow back into ourselves organically and add to it as it made sense,” Stachel said.

    Now, with an expanding clientele of regulars and new guests alike, Stachel said The Little Bird is working to expand its dinner plans. Often, the restaurant is pegged as “European,” but Stachel said he prefers to look at the ever-changing menu as “progressive new American.” Fueling that ethos are partnerships with small suppliers and local farms.

    “We can incorporate research and experience from the world’s cuisines and mash those up within American cuisine,” he said of the largely scratch kitchen. “We meet ideas that come from far way and combine them and put our own fun, creative twist on them. I’d say we are a little progressive, we’re trying to put ourselves out there to be one of the spots as the city continues to evolve and the population becomes more dynamic.”

    To go with the menu, Stachel also heads up the bar program at The Little Bird, which he said maintains a progressive attitude in its offerings. At the moment, the wine list is leaning toward natural wines from small family and farm producers.

    “We like to emphasize those wines, a nice selection of spirits and cocktails, cider, beer,” he said. “We like to work in support of the little guys as much as possible and put smaller producers on the radar for the beverage curious.”

    Put the food and beverages together with the overarching mission for “genuine caring hospitality,” and Stachel said he hopes diners return regularly.

    “What can we do to improve people’s lives who are spending just a small amount of time with us?” he said. “Hopefully, we can open up unexpected doors within that time with our guests.”

    As the normal hours of The Little Bird continue to expand, Stachel said the restaurant is beginning to host regular special dinners — like August’s plant-based dinner paired with skin-contact wines — and collaborate with entities and individuals from around Grand Rapids and Michigan to continue to open doors to the culinary curious.

    “We are now in a good swing and cadence of monthly special dinners that will change form and take shape with each dinner,” he said. “They will be in line creatively with what we’re doing.”

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