It’s safe to say Grand Rapids has cemented its place as a growing, up-and-coming city. Of course with big-city culture comes big-city prices.
Sure, it’s satisfying to splurge on gourmet $15 burgers or $6 tacos — it’s also easy to let it break the bank. Never fear: The Cheap Bastard is here to save you some dough. Being cheap doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or get your fill on first-class food, drinks and entertainment.
Sit back, relax and let this penny-pinching pro show you how to finagle your way into some tasty local deals.
If you’re heading out for a night on the town, make sure you look good. If you need a quick makeover, the Douglas J Aveda Institute (138 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids) has you covered. This high-end beauty school offers everything from haircuts and beard trims to facials and mani-pedis. The best part is since it’s a learning environment all services are a fraction of the cost of other salons (where else can you get a full haircut and blowout/finish for $28?). Tipping is strictly forbidden. Now that you’re all dolled up, it’s time to get started early.
Happy Hours and Specials
The Monarch Club (646 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids) is host to a happy hour that pleases the thirstiest of patrons. Monday-Friday, from 3-6 p.m., it offers $3.50 craft and Euro pints as well as $1 off domestics and $1.50 retro beers. While the Monarch skips happy hour each Sunday, they offer something even better — Sloppy Sundays! Dig into a free taco bar and order up $3 Bloody Mary’s and $2 PBR pints. Just down the street is the Blue Dog Tavern (638 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids), its happy hour runs 4-7 p.m. and includes $2 16-oz. cans of PBR, $3 well drinks and $1 off chili.
If you’re hankering for something a little swankier, head around the corner to Long Road Distillers (537 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids) for happy hour. Monday-Friday until 6 p.m. it offers $2 off cocktails, $3 shots and a $3 shot and pop special. Also keep an eye on the calendar for one of their famous $1 oyster nights.
By now you’re socially lubricated and it’s time to get some food in your belly. Head over to HopCat (25 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids) for its half-off burger special (2-6 p.m., Monday-Thursday). Mondays at Hopcat also offers half-off wings from 6 p.m. until close. Sushi lovers take note of XO Asian Cuisine’s half-off sushi special, available all day every Tuesday at its 58 Monroe Center location. If Tuesday doesn’t work, Osaka Steak House (4977 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids) has the same deal on Wednesdays.
Now it’s time for some dessert. Head over to Sara’s Sweets Bakery (2211 E Beltline Ave. NE, Grand Rapids) for BOGO cupcakes every Tuesday and Wednesday.
Beyond nightly specials, there’s always the option of buying a Groupon to one of your favorite eateries. Or, better yet, if you happen to be a Verizon Wireless customer you can use points earned from using Verizon’s services to get deals like BOGO dinners at local restaurants and discounted tickets to local events and shopping specials. Some Verizon rewards program participators include the James Street Inn (255 James St., Holland), That 70’s Dough pizzeria (1720 Sternberg Rd., Muskegon) and Curry Kitchen (961 Fulton St. E, Grand Rapids).
Bring the Kids
Got the rug-rats tagging along? Fortunately a whole slew of local restaurants offer discounted or free dining for kids. For instance, the 8th Street Grille (20 W 8th St., Holland) lets kids eat free on Wednesday nights with the purchase of one adult entrée. Main Street Pub has the same deal Sunday-Wednesday at its Kalamazoo, Wyoming and Allendale locations.
Arts & Culture
If you prefer dinner and a movie, be sure to visit one of the many local restaurants that partake in the UICA’s Dinner and a Movie deal – Grand Rapids Brewing Company (1 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids), Stella’s Lounge (53 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids) and Aperitivo (435 Ionia SW, Grand Rapids), to name only a few. By showing the same-day receipt from dinner, moviegoers automatically get discounted tickets ($2 for UICA members, $5 non-members).
Now that dinner is taken care of, it’s time to take in some arts and entertainment. There’s something in West Michigan for everyone, from ballet and symphonies to sporting events, museums and botanical gardens. While most of these come with a price tag, the Grand Rapids Public Library has found a way to hook you up for free. The GRPL’s Check It Out program offers free passes to all of the aforementioned events and many others. As long as you have a GRPL library card, you and up to five other friends can get a free pass to a local hockey game, opera or museum of your choice. Circulating memberships are available on a first come, first served basis and availabilities and terms for certain events may change. For more details on the Check It Out program, visit grpl.org/checkitout.
For the thrifty art buff, the Grand Rapids Art Museum (101 Monroe Center St. NW, Grand Rapids) is the place to be each Tuesday from 10-5 p.m. and Thursday from 5-9 p.m. Perk: Free admission.
Now that our night is winding down to a close, let’s stop back at a local bar for a night cap. The Pyramid Scheme (68 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids) has plenty of nightly specials — you can’t beat their half-priced Short’s drafts on Tuesday night. Also, if you hit up this live-music mecca on the first Sunday of the month you can play dozens of pinball machines for FREE.
Frugal wine aficionados should take note of the Holiday Bar’s Wednesday special: Half-off bottles of wine. Pour it up! But if wine isn’t hitting the spot, it’s time for some beer. Monday nights Our Brewing Company (76 E 8th St., Holland) offers three beers for $3, as well as the opportunity to take a shot at their giant Jenga board. If you want to close out your night with some live music, head over to Eastown and visit Mulligan’s Pub (1518 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids) for a cover-free show and affordable drinks.
What better way to end a night on the town than with cheap beer and pizza? Head over to one of the five local Uccello’s restaurants for half-priced appetizers and drafts from 10 p.m.-1:30 a.m. and $3.99 personal pizzas from 11 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
The Cheap Bastard