Flat Lander's (855 Michigan St.) brings hillbilly chic to Grand Rapids. Named after what Yoopers call city-folk like us while eating their pasties, Flat Lander's is not just a bar, it's a barstillery. A first-of-its-kind distillery, bar and restaurant, barstillery is being trademarked so those scamps at Applebee's don’t steal it. Flat Lander's distills certified organic liquors using Michigan water, corn and wheat. Served out of bottles designed by co-owner Gregg Palazzolo, there’s vodka, gin distilled using the rare Bilberry and 13 bonicals, rum, three-year-old bourbon aged in virgin oak and white whiskey. The bar serves premium concoctions such as the AppleShine Moonshine mixed with Michigan apple cider, a Mayberry Manhattan made with house-made bitters and a Luxardo cherry and a Dirty Bird Martini poured with their organic vodka. The rough-hewn restaurant, also designed by Gregg, is intentionally small and intimate. The design kept the 100-year-old character of the former sawmill. The menu includes Devils eggs with Sriracha and Jalapeno caps, Hillbilly poutine, and the Flat burger with pulled pork and a fried egg.
Known for always being on the verge of opening, Elk Brewing (700 Wealthy St., Grand Rapids) finally opened. It’s time to quaff a brew on Wealthy Street’s Gourmet Row. Co-owners Taylor Carroll and Eric Karns spent the last two years transforming a derelict fish fry popular with Free Market’s ex-wife into a state-of-the-art brewery. Eschewing the whims of bankers and meddling of investment funds, Taylor and Eric got help from small investors. With opening night packed to the gills, Free Market looks forward to squeezing in one night to rehydrate himself. You won’t find clever beer names or naughty logos yet, as brewmaster Eric massages his recipes. The taps are pouring an IPA, an ESB, a Scotch ale and a black IPA. Each has a high ABV, so bring a designated driver. With no kitchen, Elk Brewing lets you order from Jonny B'z Dogs and More, which delivers.
Opening in June, Furniture City Creamery (958 Cherry St., Grand Rapids) brings a little something sweet to the southeast side of Grand Rapids. Replacing the mysterious peddler of over-priced housewares called the Conservatory, Furniture City will make handmade ice cream available to young and old alike. And by hand-made, Free Market means that owner Rachel Franko literally can make ice cream herself. MAGIC. Inspired by gourmet ice cream shops she visited out west, Rachel spent last summer testing her ice cream recipes at Mitten Brewing Company. The response to her extra creamy, extra rich treats - closer to gelato than Dairy Queen fluff - encouraged her to open her own shop. She upgraded the facade and gutted the interior, which will have a have a vintage feel. A chemical engineer by training, Rachel enjoys experimenting to get the perfect recipes for her ice cream. She will offer 14 flavors daily, 10 dairy and four vegan friendly. The carrot cake, red velvet cookie, salted caramel and coconut lime ice cream were the most popular last summer. When not serving customers, Rachel will be in the commercial kitchen keeping more than 30 flavors on rotation with new concoctions developed based on customer input.
The dungeon-like Old Kent Bank branch on Diamond and Cherry Street in Grand Rapids has new windows and a new tenant, Metal Art Studio. With the Monroe Avenue building under renovation, co-owners and spouses Carol Wagen and Scott Carey were thrilled to move to East Hills. “When we had to move, we got everyone together and asked where we should go if we were coming from out of state. Everyone said Cherry Street.” Carol and Scott met in jewelery design class at Kendall College of Art and Design. Scott left to design jewelery and Carol went into advertising. They got married in 1989 and started Metal Art Studio in 1990. Over the past 25 years, they built a reputation for designing jewelry that reflects your individualism, your personality, your taste. It’s different from any jeweler in town. You will find designer pieces from around the world, high-craft jewelery by in-house designers and custom work for your dream piece. “We only work with designers that we know and respect. You can feel that relationship in their jewelery,” Carol said. While luxurious, not everything is high end at Metal Art Studio. You can find babysitter gifts and nanny gifts that, while affordable, will last a lifetime. “We are thrilled to be in East Hills, because it’s a destination. We don’t want to move again,” she said.
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