Thursday, 30 March 2017 15:36

Now Open & Coming Soon: New Restaurant and Brewery Report 2017

Written by  Troy Reimink
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There is anxiety in Restaurant Industry Thinkpiece Land about a looming food bubble. This is the concern now trickling outward from the big cities, where some dining scenes have grown so large, so fast that there are neither enough customers nor enough qualified workers to sustain them.

But if it’s true that it takes longer for big-city trends to find footing in Grand Rapids, then we’re assured at least a few more peak years for West Michigan’s somehow-still-expanding restaurant landscape before a course correction. So eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow… well, you know the rest. 

We’ll help! Almost a year ago, we ran a list of some of the area’s most exciting new and soon-to-open restaurants, and the Food Issue is a good time to check back in. (You might notice a few “coming-soons” from last year are still coming soon. Stuff happens.)

Here’s where you’ll be emptying your trust fund for the rest of 2017. The details herein are subject to change, because obviously.


18th Amendment Spirits Co. — It is hard to think of a new distillery named for the 1920s constitutional act banning the sale of alcohol without remembering the Simpsons episode “Homer vs. the 18th Amendment.” Springfield briefly revives the law, only to be joyously “reunited with Lady Liquor.” Accordingly, the Muskegon establishment will open in mid-April in a speakeasy-inspired format. Also: whistle punk. (Yes, that’s how it’s stylized) is making a triumphant return in the distillery, with its big ol’ wood-fired pizza oven and everything. (350 W. Western Ave., Muskegon;

7 Monks Taproom — Joining the influx of established out-of-town pub/restaurant brands seeking a piece of Grand Rapids’ gold rush is the widely-acclaimed Traverse City beer bar. The new Grand Rapids taproom will inhabit the ground floor of the 616 Lofts mixed-use development at Michigan Street and Eastern Avenue NE. The restaurant will offer gastro-pub fare, along with 57 taps, some of which are sure to pour ales honoring the European tradition of Trappist monk-brewed beer. The grand opening is planned for April 21. (740 Michigan St. NE;

Allusion Brewing Co. — The twin passions of brewing and nerd culture are driving friends Zachariah Mann and Christopher Crothers toward the opening of their Holland brewery, still in the “eventually” column. (

Ando Asian Kitchen — The “Asian comfort food” concept by Robert Song — whose Maru Sushi & Grill is a Cherry Hill favorite — will join the ground-floor retail tenants in Rockford Construction’s mixed-use development on Grand Rapids’ West Side. Originally planned for a September 2016 opening, the restaurant now is expected to launch in early May. (405 Turner Ave. NW;

Brass Ring Brewing — Breweries are so widespread in Grand Rapids that they’re basically the new neighborhood ice cream shops. That’s quite literal in this case, as the Brass Ring small-batch brewery will open in late summer or early fall in the space that formerly housed the Dog King, an ice cream and hot dog shop in Alger Heights. (2404 Eastern Ave. SE;

Brewery 4 Two 4 — The long-delayed Holland brewery inches closer toward realization, opening soon with a diverse offering of beers honed by longtime home-brew enthusiast Dave Miller, including the timely Crazy Putin. (321 Douglas Ave., Holland;

Brown Butter Creperie — In the "Windmill Building" in Eastown. Now open. (1436 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids,

Butcher’s Union — Open for just two months, Butcher’s is already packed wall-to-wall every night. Apparently the West Side really loves meat and whiskey, the new restaurant’s specialties. Then again, Butcher’s also has top-notch, well-balanced cocktails (averaging $8) and options for the herbivores. Offerings aside, Butcher’s classic atmosphere and historic building play a big part in its success, giving the feeling of a far-off place in a bygone era. (438 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids;

Candied Yam — Now open. (2305 44th St. SE, Grand Rapids,

Citizen — Joining the Creston neighborhood’s growing dining and drinking corridor is a “global-style” restaurant on the former site of the Grand Rapids Karate Academy. (2115 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids,

City Built Brewing Company — The eagerly-awaited riverside brewery remains… eagerly awaited. City Built has offered previews of its food (Puerto Rican) and its tap list (idiosyncratic). All that remains is the official opening of its riverside taproom — we’re told “spring 2017,” as in, any day now — in the booming North Monroe business district. (820 Monroe Ave. NW, Suite 155;

Craft Beer Cellar — While Craft Beer Cellar is a franchise, with multiple locations on the east coast, the newly opened Grand Rapids store feels local. That’s because it’s independently-owned, and the first craft beer bottle shop in the city’s downtown area, with shelves full of West Michigan brews. But more than a store, it’s also a taproom, serving on draft many of the very beers that are available to take home. Local breweries are already setting up events with the shop, such as free tastings. Also check out Game Night on Mondays from 5-9 p.m. for a $1-off pour. (404 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids,

East West Brewing Co. — Eastown’s newest brewery has been open since the end of last year, but word is still getting around. East West is the result of a longtime interest in craft brewing for Balwinder Bal, owner of the neighborhood fixture Bombay Cuisine, with which it shares a building. (1400 Lake Dr. SE;

Georgina’s Fusion Cuisine — Second location for the popular Traverse City eatery, in the former Phil's Stuff location in East Hills. (724 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids)

Good Pizza Co. — In the former Cult Pizza location on Jefferson Ave. (10 Jefferson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids,

Green Well Gastropub in Rockford — The romantic ambience of the former Reds on the River location in downtown Rockford provided an excellent spot to mark an anniversary — or throw a Hail Mary to compensate for shortcomings (but enough about me). It’s gone now though, and Green Well Gastropub — a favorite in the Cherry Hill district in Grand Rapids for nearly a decade — is set to open a second location in the vacant former site sometime early this summer. (8 East Bridge St., Rockford;

Happy Cat Cafe — It’s been more than a year since Happy Cat Cafe began plans to open in Grand Rapids. The cafe is exactly what it sounds like: a coffee shop with cats, who all happen to be up for adoption. The goal is to help socialize the cats before they go off to a loving home, but we’re pretty sure the human customers get a little something out of it too. The cafe should be open this month. (447 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids;

Hancock — Still in the development stages, this proposed restaurant from Winchester and Donkey Taqueria owner Paul Lee would take over the corner of Wealthy Street and Fuller Avenue long occupied by Wealthy Street Station, which closed in 2015. Presumably this would be Lee’s long-discussed “no-tipping” restaurant, the first of its kind in the city. (1157 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids)

Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales — This is a bit further down the road, but the Dexter-based Northern United Brewing Company — known for its Jolly Pumpkin, North Peak and Grizzly Peak breweries — is joining the club on Bridge Street, already home to second locations for New Holland Brewing Co. and Harmony Brewing Co. The hope is that construction on the site — the former Red Lion restaurant and an adjacent parking lot — will begin this spring and may include a restaurant and beer garden. (449 Bridge St., Grand Rapids;

Matchbox Diner & Drinks — Finding a decent Bloody Mary on a weekend in Grand Rapids used to be an Odyssean undertaking. But since we’re in the middle of a brunch renaissance (brunaissance?), the Sunday Funday crowd now is presented with an ample selection. In a few short months at the former Brandywine location in the now intensely-competitive Eastown neighborhood, Matchbox Diner & Drinks has asserted itself with a throwback menu of diner-style breakfasts, deli lunches and meaty entrees. (1345 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids;

Mazzo Cucina D’Italia — Opening soon in the former Tre Cugini space on Monroe Center. (122 Monroe Center NW, Grand Rapids)

One Bourbon — Don’t let the name mislead you: The new West Side whiskey bar in the former site of Louie’s Bar and Rocket Lounge will feature far more than one bourbon. Expect more than a hundred bourbons and whiskeys, plus regional wines, craft beers and a menu embracing the farm-to-fork and slow-food movements, in a hip setting full of exposed brick and other faux-industrial accoutrements. (608 Bridge St. NW;

Palio — The Medical Mile space formerly occupied by the El Barrio Mexican Grill soon will house an Ann Arbor mainstay’s expansion into Grand Rapids. The new Palio is set to open sometime this spring following a $400,000 renovation. Open in Ann Arbor since 1981, the Italian restaurant is now part of a chain that also operates the Chop House in downtown Grand Rapids. The new Palio location will offer Tuscan-inspired dishes as well as a bar featuring craft beer, cocktails and wines. (545 Michigan St., NE;

Thornapple Brewing Company — “Thornapple” is too good a name for a river to not have a nearby brewery paying tribute. Jeff Coffey and Eric Fouch, veteran beer-makers who met as members of Grand Rapids’ Primetime Brewers Club, plan to open Cascade Township’s first brewpub any day now. Housed in a 28th Street strip mall, Thornapple aspires to community-watering-hole status. (6262 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids;

Two Guys Brewing — True to its name, Two Guys Brewing is a labor of love for beer-making dudes Tom Payne and Charlie Vanderploeg, who this summer will open a facility near Lamar Park in Wyoming. The taproom will take over a converted 7-Eleven, while the brewhouse is moving into an old fire station. (2356 Porter St. SW, Wyoming;


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