The Grand Rapids restaurant and bar scene has undergone a lot of change over the past few months.
It’s no secret that the city gets a little quiet during the summer. These can be make-or-break months for ma and pa businesses, a natural time to reduce hours or power down all together; revamp.
As the colder months set in and opportunities for social engagements move almost exclusively indoors, the town livens up again.
Shop fronts are changing all over the city. It’s hard to keep up.
Here’s a brief wrap up of some recent changes in the restaurant and bar world and what’s to come:
Broad Leaf Brewing & Spirts’ new Westside taproom and beer garden is awaiting the go-ahead from the powers that be to begin serving customers at its new location, 443 Bridge Street NW, the former address of the New Nordic/Farm-to-Table restaurant, Sovengard (more on that later).
According to a press release from co-owner Kris Spaulding, Broad Leaf Westside will follow a similar vibe and theme as its current location in Kentwood, 2885 Lake Eastbrook Blvd. SE, which is remaining open.
Broad Leaf Westside will offer a different menu for both food and cocktails unique to each locale and will occupy the Garden level and beer garden of 443 Bridge Street NW, while Drip Drop, a new cocktail bar will occupy the street level.
Sovengard, an “urban biergarten and kitchen specializing in seasonal, local, and sustainably sourced food and beverages,” according to the restaurant’s website, has been on hiatus since until its new home at 1232 Bridge St. NW, is ready.
Sip Shine National Moonshine Brand is opening a Nashville-style tasting room and restaurant, Sip Shine Lounge, 401 Stocking Ave. NW., formerly Harmony Hall. The latter establishment’s Eastside offshoot, Harmony Brewing, 1551 Lake Dr SE, remains open (thank heavens) and is still serving up some of the best pizza in the city. Keep your eyes peeled for more about that little hotspot in the coming issues (it’s one of my favorites because I can bring the dog).
Another Eastside establishment, Danzon Cubano, 1 Carlton Ave SE Ste. A, Grand Rapids, has been supplanted by a new Mexican restaurant, Los Amigos Cantina. Hooray! Another place to spend Taco Tuesday. A very friendly front of house worker at Los Amigos said that the changeover happened less than a month ago. Who knew?
Sip Cocktails and Coffee, 806 Alger St. SE, at the corner of Alger and Eastern, is excited to open very soon. I’ll be talking to owner, Jonathan Jelks, later this week. Look for an update on that Friday.
Nestled between Jose Babushka’s and Bagel Kitchen, 2228 Wealthy St SE on Wealthy St. in East Grand Rapids’ Gaslight District, a new Asian cuisine restaurant, Pink Piggy, has announced its impending arrival (see photo). I am thankful I’ll be able to get Boba without illegally parking outside of Ding Tea, 45 Ottawa Ave. SW.
Sadly, my favorite Indian cuisine in the city is no longer available. East West Brewing Company/Bombay Cuisine, closed its doors Oct. 2. If anyone knows who can replicate the restaurant’s baingan bharta (fire roasted eggplant mash cooked with spices) please, please reach out.
At least another fave didn’t shut down when the owners decided to give up the ghost.
Longtime East Grand Rapids eatery, Olive’s, 2162 Wealthy St SE, is under new ownership. The scuttlebutt reached my ears, so I reached out.
The new owners are Marc and Charlene Montpetit. Their daughter had been a hostess and server at Olive’s before she went away to college. She came home one day and announced that the restaurant was for sale and that the staff wanted the Montpetits to buy it.
“We made an offer and they accepted. The restaurant has been ours since October first,” said Marc Montpetit.
A new chef, Daren Palacios, started in July. He had worked there previously and has been doing pop-up events under a brand called Shaker and Swine.
“The new menu was launched in August and that was very well received,” said Montpetit.
Tonight (Oct. 19), Olive’s is holding a fundraiser for the Children’s Healing Center and donating 20% of sales between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m. to a recreation facility that provides social and emotional healing for kids with weakened immune systems.
It’s part of the annual “Hearts of Gold” fundraiser driven by East Grand Rapids Schools.
Montpetit said Olive’s will keep most of its popular dishes, but that there will be new things afoot as well; pop up brunches and wine pairing dinners.
The next pop-up brunch will be under the “Shaker and Swine” label, Nov. 13, noon – 4 p.m. “Or until we run out of food,” Montpetit said. “It’s been packed, even on a Monday. We’re really excited,” Montpetit said.
Other East Grand Rapids restaurants involved in the fundraiser (but, on different nights of this week) are: Jose Babushka’s, 2232 Wealthy St SE, Pera, in the space that used to be Rose’s Express, 2224 Wealthy St SE, and Big Bob’s Pizza, 661 Croswell Ave SE. I’ve included a link because if you haven’t had one before, I highly recommend the Briazzo!
Some food trucks are rumored to be in the EGR area around lunchtime this coming Friday, Oct. 21, that are also involved in the “Hearts of Gold” fundraiser. These popular portable cuisine machines made further inroads into the community during the pandemic when “takeout only” became a thing. No word on which food trucks or where they’ll be parking in EGR, but it’s a tiny community. If you’re into such things they should be easy to find.
Note to readers: If I missed anything, please reach out. As a relatively new writer on the restaurant and adult beverage scene in Grand Rapids, I would be ever-so-grateful for any hot tips, updates or other good information on restaurants, beverages, new shops and/or events. I’m also a sucker for human interest / community stories that tug at the heartstrings. Email me at lenos at grmag dot com.