Saturday, 07 May 2016 09:09

West Michigan Biz Beat: Openings, closings and other business news

Written by  Josh Veal
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The Pizza Experiment (formerly known as Cult Pizza) offers a "farm to crust" spin on pizza. The Pizza Experiment (formerly known as Cult Pizza) offers a "farm to crust" spin on pizza.

 

This month in business news: many new dining and drinking establishments, including Brick & Porter, Gray Skies Distillery, and a second location for Vander Mill.

 

OPENING: 

Brick & Porter just joined the ranks of brewpubs with unforgettable cuisine in the heart of Grand Rapids. They’ve got big, juicy burgers, a whole bunch of fresh salads, too many sandwiches, and more. Plus, obviously: Loads of craft beer.

This March, Gray Skies Distillery quietly set up shop in Grand Rapids’ industrial district to the north. Spiced rum is on its way, but their vodka and hopped gin are available now in the uber-modern tasting room, open Thursday through Saturday.

R.I.P. Kava House. The cozy Eastown coffee shop once acted as the go-to study spot for local latte lovers and Aquinas students before the owner decided to retire last November. Now, from the ashes rises That Early Bird, a coffee shop and breakfast sandwich concept co-created by a renowned Grand Rapids chef and the head roaster of Rowster Coffee. They plan to open soon.

If you’re looking for upwards of 40 flavors of popcorn, head to Holland for the brand new Poppin Huis. This adorable little boutique is filled to the brim with barrels of candy and every possible form of popcorn you can (and can’t) imagine. 

 

GROWTH: 

Undisputed Midwest hard cider king Vander Mill has made its way to Grand Rapids with a $4.2 million expansion that tripled the company’s production capabilities. The new location is outfitted with a killer taproom, including a hanging patio IN the colossal brewhouse. You can literally hear the hoses splashing against brite tanks as you wash down an entire fish with a perfectly balanced cider.

Have you ever been sitting around waiting for your gourmet chili dogs and olive burger at Jonny B’z and thought to yourself, “You know, I could really go for a drink right now.” Well you’re in luck. Jonny is headed across the street with an expansion that includes a full service bar, a far bigger menu and a sweet patio. Opening early May. 

Two Grand Rapids-based companies recently signed deals to move their products into Meijer. Look for Prospectors Cold Brew Coffee and “sustainably packaged” Boxed Water on the shelves of Meijer’s 200-plus locations across the Midwest. It’s about time!

 

CLOSING: 

Forest Hill’s Fajita Republic closed up shop in March after two years of slowly dwindling foot traffic. The idea was to take Mexican food and make it upscale, while still keeping things affordable, a balance that’s hard to find. Meanwhile, nationwide chains like Bagger Dave’s and Bravo! Cucina Italiana continue to move in across the street. 

 

OTHER CHANGES:

Awesomely authentic Caribbean eatery Jamaican Dave’s is moving from its East Hills location of 15 years to a strip mall on South Division Avenue. Why? In large part because the last spot was like the Isla de Muerta of Pirates of the Caribbean — “it can only be found by those who already knew where it is.” 

A few shifts in management and ownership have meant big changes for Grand Rapids’ Bartertown Diner and CVLT Pizza. First off, the latter is now known as The Pizza Experiment. Their commitment to vegan pies and locally-sourced ingredients is still there, but the menu is even crazier than before. For example: French onion sauce or maple garlic spread as a base. Bartertown has eliminated tipping and instead is offering the option to buy a future customer a two-buck taco or cheap burrito. The vegan diner has also expanded their menu and announced plans to pay employees a living wage.

 

If you have any closings, openings or other business news for REVUE, e-mail josh@revuewm.com.

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